Jamie Peacock was one of those selfless Rugby League players you would’ve loved to play alongside. For Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos, Great Britain and England, he put in the hard yards required to tee his teammates up for success. Traits like that are hard to shake off and five years after retirement he’s still pushing his body through the pain barrier to benefit others.
On March 6th Jamie Peacock will take on his second Ultra Marathon alongside Simon Dent in a bid to raise money for Sports Charity, Greenhouse Sports. The former England Rugby League captain completed a similar challenge in Exmoor back in October, raising over £50,000 for former teammate, Rob Burrow.
This time, he’s raising money for a different charity and is raising the bar once again.
“The Green Man is a 45 mile ‘ultra’ down through Cheltenham at the beginning of March,” he exclusively told GiveMeSport. “I’ve ran one Ultra Marathon, but this one is that little bit further and not too far off the double marathon.”
After a slight pause, Jamie continues: “But it isn’t quite as hilly as the one we’ve run before.”
“Greenhouse is a charity that works hard to put sports coaches into schools, who are in socially deprived areas to try and help kids get back on the right track through sport. It’s a great charity and one that I want to align with.
“Sport has had a rough ride in the last 10 months and sport is just such a great vehicle for kids to learn lessons about life. Often it can get the kids who aren’t particularly academically engaged and get them more engaged.”
Rugby League is a sport that has kept many people on the straight and narrow.
That’s why this charity is so easy for Peacock to align with. He was once a bundle of energy, but with the freedom to get out onto the Rugby League field and put that energy to good use.
“I had a lot of energy as a kid and (playing rugby) it helped me get rid of that energy,” he continued. “Energy as a kid can go one of two ways: it can be positive or negative. I think using it in a positive way on a rugby pitch was a good thing for me.
“Rugby also teaches you about teamwork and respect; doing the right thing and understanding that you’ve all got a role to play if you want to win in a team sport.
“Sport also teaches people about discipline; the discipline to turn up to training on time and be there each week. I think that discipline is useful for kids in every walk of life, whether that’s academic or when they leave school as well.
“I learnt a lot of great character traits playing rugby that you needed to be successful.”
That character will be put to the ultimate test for the second time in the space of 12 months in March as Peacock takes on another Ultra Marathon.
Hours of training will be required between now and then, but it’s not all going to be smooth sailing for one of Rugby League’s most decorated players.
“My training isn’t the greatest at the moment,” he conceded. “I’m trying to get over a calf injury.
I ran with Kev (Sinfield) on his ‘7 in 7’ the other week and it went after about 3 kilometres, but I managed to get through to about the 22 mark. It actually feels alright now, so I’m going to try and get up to 24-25 kilometre this weekend, but then I’m really going to have to ramp it up over the next six-seven weeks as we get towards the end of January.
“I’ve been there before, which is always useful. The first time you ever run a marathon, or an Ultra Marathon, you’re nervous stepping into the unexpected. I know what to expect now and I’ll be ready for it. I know it’s going to be a challenge.”
Physically, Peacock has played one of sport’s most gruelling games. Collisions are at every corner in a game of Rugby League and, naturally, bumps and bruises emerge.
I ask if that demand in Rugby League has prepared him for these fresh challenges.
Peacock responds thoughtfully: “Rugby really conditions you to get over injuries and play with injuries. I would imagine that every single Rugby League player has played with injury and pushed through because you don’t want to go off. You might not be 100% but you can still push through that pain barrier.
“That’s what rugby has taught me at professional level. You can push through twinges and niggles to push yourself much further than you think you are capable of.”
As Peacock alluded to earlier in our conversation, he took part in a small section of Kevin Sinfield’s attempt to run seven marathons in seven days to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Like Greenhouse Sports that is another charity close to Peacock’s heart for a very different reason.
Sadly, former Leeds Rhinos teammate, Rob Burrow, has been diagnosed with MND. The Rugby League community has rallied around him and his family, with Peacock included. His Ultra Marathon in October raised money for Rob.
Sinfield’s efforts were superhuman. His ‘7 in 7’ was completed earlier in December and Peacock was amongst those to run alongside him for a short time to give his former captain that extra bit of motivation.
So, how have Sinfield’s efforts inspired him ahead of the challenge awaiting him in 2021?
“What Kev did was incredible! To run seven marathons in seven days was phenomenal and that’s inspiring.
“What’s inspiring as well is how Rob has dealt with the cards that he’s been given over the last 12 months.
“We all think we’ve had a rough ride of it in the last 12 months with Covid, but Rob really has had a rough ride in terms of the diagnosis of the illness and not being able to get treatment. He has never moaned, never whinged, he’s just got on with things.
“I think the two of them together (Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow) are an inspiration and it’s powerful when you get two people together like that.”
Sinfield set out to raise £77,777 in honour of Rob’s former shirt number. As things stand, over £2.5m has been raised and that continues to rise.
Peacock’s target is sitting at £30,000. His sole aim is to provide enough funding for a sports coach to go into a deprived area and provide a sporting education for children.
When you see what can happen when the Rugby League community pulls together behind you, it’s hard not to aim for more, surely. Peacock holds hopes that can happen, but he understands these testing times people find themselves in financially.
“When we ran the Ultra Marathon for Rob we set our target at £5,000 and we ended up at £51,000 so there’s every chance of doing that,” Peacock stated.
“Hopefully the challenge catches on with people. If it does that will be awesome.
“We are so thankful for people’s generosity in such challenging times.”
As Jamie Peacock and Simon Dent prepare to push themselves through the pain barrier for such a good cause in 2021, you can donate here via their fundraising link.