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Challenger Programme

A Letter from an Explorer

Our newest Challenger, explorer and ultra-runner Jamie Maddison


Who am I and why am I writing this to you on the Christopher Ward blog? Well, my name is Jamie and I’m an explorer of Central Asia. That’s a bit of an odd thing to call yourself—an explorer—in this day and age when everything’s supposedly already been discovered, but it’s really the best way to sum up my passion and interest for a part of the world not so many of us have ever heard of let alone been to.

Over the past decade, I have been lucky enough to live and adventure with eagle hunters in Western Mongolia, ride horses 800 miles across Kazakhstan, work with nomads on the border of Afghanistan, run with camel herders in Uzbekistan, find ancient artefacts in the high mountains of Tajikistan, fall off several galloping horses, and even had a case of frost-related nerve damage, as well as being exposed to who knows what on an abandoned experimental Soviet weapons testing facility.

In the beginning, I wanted to do these journeys for fame and fortune, and to make a name. But as I grafted and grunted my way through many months in the middle of the Central Asian steppe I realised that the value of such journeys came more from what these eccentric acts could teach me about myself: how to make do; how to work hard when you don’t want to; how to challenge yourself; how to keep disciplined under the harshest of conditions; how to adapt and be agile.

Most of all, it taught me the importance of raw passion, grit and being the honest underdog in this modern age of big budgets and even bigger egos.

I’m sure that I do not have to tell you that Christopher Ward also champion these values and so when I approached them asking for help with my latest plan, a 100 mile ultramarathon across the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert in Kazakhstan, they couldn’t have been more supportive. Through the Christopher Ward Challenger Programme, they’re enabling me to make what could be the first on-foot crossing the desert, certainly the first to run across it.

The expedition leaves in September and I will be providing regular updates before then as to my planning, training, and also interesting facts and information about expedition timekeeping. As with anything related to discovery and exploration, the most important part will always lie in the information, the story, you are able to share with others.

I hope you enjoy reading mine.

Jamie Maddison is a Christopher Ward Challenger and wears a C60 Trident COSC 600. To find out more about the Challenger programme, click here: Challenger Programme.

A marathon, not a sprint
We catch up with Jamie in the aftermath of his ultra-marathon across the Kazakhstani desert, where he describes his toughest challenge yet; what he learned from it; and his advice for anyone who is contemplating an equally insane undertaking!

The journey so far: only 100 miles to go
Ahead of his 100 mile ultra-marathon across the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert in Eastern Kazakhstan, we spoke to Jamie about his training and the challenges ahead.

How to find your way with your watch
A simple way of telling which direction you’re traveling, just by using the humble wristwatch.

8 reasons why running is a top sport for adventurous people
From physical positives through to the spiritual, Jamie explains how running has improved his life (and could improve yours).

Across the desert
Every journey starts with a single step, or more specifically, 55 miles and 8 hours of training in this case.

Q&A with Jamie
Find out what makes Jamie tick – what it means to be an explorer, his love for horology and how the Challenger programme is supporting him through his epic journey.

A letter from an explorer
Introducing Jamie Maddison, our newest Challenger. Where he’s come from; the expedition he has in store; and how Christopher Ward are getting involved.