To Wembley and back: Liam Foster takes on 600km cycle challenge

Liam Foster, 33, from Sproatley, is currently cycling the distance between Hull KR’s Craven Park Stadium to Wembley Stadium… and back, all in aid of Motor Neurones Disease Association.

Liam outside of Hull KR’s Sewell Group Craven Park stadium – Virtual starting point and finish line of the challenge.

The idea for the 600km challenge was inspired by Rugby League legend Rob Burrow CBE and local man Craig Eskrett, who are both currently living with the life-limiting disease.

In May last year, Liam Foster had an unexpected encounter with Rob Burrow and his family on a day out. Speaking to the Burrow family, Liam learnt of the struggles that they were facing due to the cruel disease but was also left inspired by the tenacity and courage that the family displayed whilst enjoying time together in public.

Liam said: “As I drove back home that day, I knew I had to take on a fundraising challenge to help support families living with this disease.”

Liam, who had completed a marathon-a-week challenge throughout January 2023 for Sands charity, added: “My last challenge was really well received by friends, family and the local community. I want to emulate this success for the MND Association. Just like last year, the raising of awareness and starting conversations is just as valuable to the charity as donations.”

The 33-year-old’s decision to fundraise for the MND Association was cemented when he discovered that a former teammate and college friend, Craig Eskrett, had been diagnosed with the disease.

“Craig was a great character at college, really funny lad and was always a pleasure to be around. Despite the sadness of the situation, it has been brilliant reconnecting with Craig and I’m looking forward to doing all I can to support him and other families,” Liam added.

Throughout January, Liam will be using his gym as the main hub for racking up the mileage of his challenge. Liam joked: “I’m not great on a bike, and I’ll be completing most of this on an evening, so I thought it would be best for everyone that I did this indoors at this time of year.”

After completing a huge 50km cycle on Saturday afternoon, Liam has now reached the halfway mark of his 600km challenge: Wembley Stadium, London. Liam, who now has two weeks to complete the final 300km of the challenge, said: “It’s physically challenging, my legs don’t really catch a break as I’m cycling most nights in the week but I am so motivated by people’s messages and donations that I am determined to reach the finish line!”

Liam and Craig are planning to cycle the penultimate date of the challenge together. Craig, who was recently diagnosed with Motor Neurones Disease, said: “The support has been well and truly overwhelming, and I honestly can’t thank everyone enough. When I was diagnosed, I really wanted to raise as much awareness as possible and I never thought it would reach the levels it has. The continuous support from family and friends helps me stay positive and motivated to keep raising awareness to find that cure – ‘banging the drum’ as we all say. There’s a lot of amazing people out there and they all deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing.”

Liam said: “I will be completing the final day of my challenge on the roads, finishing at Hull KR’s stadium. By then, I’ll be really looking forward to getting outdoors and following the final route of the journey.” Liam hopes to tie this in with Hull KR’s fixture against Sheffield Eagles on Sunday 28 January.

Liam explained his thoughts behind using the ‘Wembley and back’ journey: “The Rugby League community have all been touched by Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield’s fundraising efforts for MND Association. Craig is a massive Hull KR fan and the club played at Wembley last summer too, so it made sense for me to tie my challenge in with the local side.”

The MND Association is the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on improving access to care, research and campaigning for those living with or affected by MND.

MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease which affects the brain and spinal cord. It attacks the nerves that control movement and eventually leaves people unable to move, communicate or breathe. It kills a third of people within a year of diagnosis and half within two years. There is no cure.

You can follow updates and support Liam’s 600km cycle challenge on his JustGiving page: