Leeds marathon: First pictures as Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield cross the start line at Headingley stadium

The sun is out and spirits are high in Leeds as runners taking part the city’s first marathon in 20 years set out across the start line.

The Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon aims to drive awareness and funds for the Leeds Hospitals Charity appeal to build a specialist motor neurone disease centre in the city. Like today’s race, it will bear the name of Rob Burrow – the former Leeds Rhinos player who has become one of the country’s most prominent motor neurone disease (MND) campaigners since going public with his own diagnosis in 2019.

Organised by Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All, in partnership with Leeds City Council, the new marathon takes inspiration from fundraising challenges undertaken by Rob’s former teammate and friend Kevin Sinfield. He has worked alongside Rob and his family to raise awareness and funds to support those affected by the condition, with his various marathon challenges helping to raise millions.

While many of the runners may have chosen to collect sponsorship in support of the appeal for the Rob Burrow Centre for MND in Seacroft or the MND Association, participants have been encourage to choose a charity that holds meaning for them. More than £1m had been already been raised with a month to go.

Those taking part today including Rob’s wife, Lindsey, who is taking on her first marathon, while Kevin will run the course while pushing Rob in his wheelchair. Addressing the runners before the first wave set off from Headingley Stadium at around 9am, Kevin said: “From doing all the work, the effort, the training, to rock up today in great shape and bring the sunshine with you, I can only thank you. To all the sponsors and Run for All, Leeds Rhinos, Leeds City Council, who have been right behind this from the very start, we have created something incredible in Rob’s name – and I can only thank you for that.”