Three legends of rugby league, former Leeds Rhinos stars Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Keith Senior, are swapping their boots for running shoes as they take on this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
Sinfield, Peacock and Senior will don their bibs, pin their numbers to their chests and tackle the 26.2-mile course around the capital’s streets on Sunday April 23.
Sinfield spent his entire 18-year rugby league career at Leeds Rhinos, and is the Super League’s record point’s scorer, as well as clocking up the most points in Rhinos' history, with 3,967.
The former England captain is pounding London’s streets for his maiden Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, a cause he holds dear to him.
“The Virgin Money London Marathon is something that’s really special,” said Oldham-born Sinfield. “I’ve never been able to do it before because of my career, because running marathons doesn’t equate to becoming a decent rugby league player.
“I’ve always watched and been touched by the different stories and people who have taken part in the Virgin Money London Marathon – it’s a great thing to be involved with.
“Prostate Cancer UK is a charity that’s pretty close to my heart – I know several people who have been affected by the illness, and it’s really important that we raise awareness.
“If we can save one person’s life or make somebody go and see their GP to get checked out, then it’s all been worthwhile. I’m delighted to be an ambassador.”
Like 36-year-old Sinfield, Peacock is a former England captain, and is also running the gruelling course for the first time – both are targeting a sub four-hour finish.
Peacock, the current head of rugby for Hull Kingston Rovers, is running for Wheatfields, a Sue Ryder hospice based in his native Leeds.
The 39-year-old said he wanted to raise much-needed funds and recognition for the centre after staff that looked after his father before he passed away in 2013.
“Towards the back end of his life, my dad spent a lot of time at Wheatfields,” said Peacock, who has won nine Super League titles and four Challenge Cups during an illustrious playing career. “It was an amazing place for my dad and family to go.
“It was a difficult and emotional time but they made it as easy as possible. They were very, very caring and looked after my dad in such a great way.”
While Sinfield and Peacock are first-timers, Senior is a Virgin Money London Marathon veteran, having completed the course three times before.
The 40-year-old is the record Super League appearance holder with 413, and concedes the event has a draw over him that keeps attracting him back to the capital.
Senior is running to raise funds for the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust, a charity based in his home town of Huddersfield.
"Everyone who has dreams and aspirations to run a marathon wants to run in London,” said Senior, who played for Leeds for 12 years after joining from Sheffield Eagles in 1999.
“This will be my fourth one; I actually ran the marathon last year on my 40th birthday. What a great way to celebrate becoming old!
“It’s a great spectacle and a superb environment to be involved in, there’s always cheering and the crowd makes it very, very special.
“Every time I finish the Virgin Money London Marathon, I say I’m never going to do it again, but I always do!”
The 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon takes place on Sunday 23 April. For the latest news, visit www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com