The road to Wembley is always filled with adventure but the trip to the 2017 Challenge Cup final will be more intrepid and short on roads for a hardy group of cyclists who are taking a more testing route to Rugby League’s showcase event.
On Monday August 21, 15 riders, including 1998 Wembley winner Keith Senior and 2004 Challenge Cup finalist Chev Walker, will set out on a marathon 320-mile off-road ride from Headingley to Wembley in aid of Rugby League Cares.
Travelling along riverside paths, forest trails and cycleways, the riders on the UK Red Ride to Wembley will work their way south via Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Loughborough, Leicester, Northampton, Milton Keynes and St Albans before arriving at the Wembley Stadium Rugby League Legends statue on the eve of the Cup final, Friday August 25.
All 15 are raising funds for Rugby League Cares, the charity that does so much good work in the field of Rugby League player welfare, health and wellbeing and which champions the game’s great heritage, including unveiling the superb statue at Wembley two years ago.
The ride is being sponsored by UK Red Fire and Security, a Leeds-based company which utilises state-of-the-art technology and expertise to provide peace of mind protection to homes and businesses across the country.
Chris Rostron, the Head of Rugby League Cares who is one of the 15 riders, said: “It’s fantastic to see former players pitching in to help the charity by taking part in the UK Red Ride to Wembley and what will be an epic five days.
“RL Cares works closely with both current and past players and the funds we raise on the ride will allow us to continue our sterling work supporting the game’s most important stakeholders.
“I would like to thank Kevin Walton and Dean Bettison from UK Red Security for their generous sponsorship of this challenging event, and ask for their patience when they’re riding alongside me en route to Wembley!”
The participants also include former Salford player Paul Highton, ex-Wakefield Trinity chief executive James Elston, Rugby AM TV presenter Alex Simmons and RL Cares staff members Emma Goldsmith and John Ledger.
Kevin Walton, the Managing Director of UK Red Fire and Security, said: “Dean and I rode from London to Paris last year and raised £1,500 for Rugby League Cares and this year wanted to do something a bit more challenging and nearer home.
“We’re both keen Leeds Rhinos fans and have nothing but admiration for the work Rugby League Cares does and the way it impacts positively on the lives of people involved at every level of the sport.
“When I pitched the idea of the UK Red Ride to Wembley to Chris and a few others, the response was fantastic and it’s great to have so many familiar, and new faces joining us for the five days.
“I really hope players and fans alike get behind us by digging deep and sponsoring the riders: Rugby League Cares goes to such great lengths to help people, it would be nice to see that sterling work get the recognition it deserves.”
Keith Senior, who cycled through South America last summer alongside Paul Highton as part of the team that rode from London to Rio in aid of RL Cares and the Jane Tomlinson Fund, said he was “almost” looking forward to getting back in the saddle!
“Since I retired six years ago I’ve undertake some massive challenges for great causes and this is up there with the toughest of them,” said Keith.
“I struggled to make the transition to the next stage of my life at the end of my playing career and it would have been so much smoother had Rugby League Cares been around back then to offer the support they now provide to current players.
“When Chris Rostron rang and asked me if I fancied joining him on a sponsored ride from Leeds to Wembley I jumped at the chance. It was only when I signed up that he told me we weren’t going to be doing it on tarmac, though….”
If you would like to sponsor the ride to Wembley, either as an individual or company please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kevin-walton10
Making a donation is quick and easy, and your support is much appreciated.
For more information on Rugby League Cares please visit www.rugbyleaguecares.org
For more information on UK Red Security please visit www.ukredsecurity.co.uk