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A marathon, not a sprint

Jamie Maddison completes his epic cross-desert 30-hour run


Christopher Ward Challenger Jamie Maddison recently completed his mammoth run across the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert. We caught up with him to see how he got on, what he struggled with and what he plans to do next.




Christopher Ward Challenger Jamie Maddison departs for a 100 mile ultramarathon across the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert in Eastern Kazakhstan this week. We chatted with the ultra-marathon runner to see how he’s feeling, how the training has been coming along and what Jamie believes will be the biggest challenge on his epic expedition across an un-run desert. How are you feeling in the lead up to your run?
I’m feeling pretty good! Or, to rephrase, I feel like I’ve done everything I possibly can to prepare, so there’s not much left within my control anymore – which is comforting in a “you’ve got to accept your fate” sort of way.

How has your training been going? What have you been doing to prepare?
Training has been difficult, but satisfying. Over the course of the training period, I’ve done six 20 mile runs, three marathons, one 35 mile route, and one 55 mile excursion. I’ve also been running seven miles home from work every day with a hefty backpack on; that’s been the hardest bit, doing exercise after late evenings in the office.

Has there been anything you’ve done differently in comparison to your other adventures to prepare?
This is the first expedition where I’ve geo-located every part of the route via satellite mapping. I’ve mapped every bend in old dirt tracks, every bearing off dried-up salt pans, and paths of least resistance through the thorny scrub. I hope this will mean I can spend as much time as possible concentrating on the run without having to worry about getting lost.



What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge during the run? What could go wrong?
I think the biggest challenge will be the distance combined with the heat, and the soft ground underfoot. It means progress will be slow over the latter half of the route – it’ll be important to stay motivated and keep a positive mental attitude.



Do you have any running rituals or superstitions?
The urge to stop can be huge: when I feel like stopping, I distract myself and stay motivated by reciting poetry or literature. Rudyard Kipling’s “If” is a staple and always keeps me going. But I’m always on the lookout for new material to add to the running monologue – the latest addition is Siegfried Sassoon’s amazing WW1 poems.



How does your family and/or partner feel about your adventures?
They’re cool with it. I’ve done enough crazy things over the years for them to become immune to my mad plans.

How has CW been supporting you so far?
Christopher Ward and the Challenger Programme have been amazing in helping me get this expedition off the ground. Not only have they given me with the financial support to make the journey a possibility, but they also created a beautiful timepiece suitable for tough desert conditions.

Christopher Ward have been an inspiration to me: I love their challenger mentality. The sheer enthusiasm and encouragement they’ve given me every step of the way has helped to push me forwards at the most difficult times.

What watch will you be wearing for the run and how will you be using it?
I wear a C60 Trident COSC 600. I’ll use it for keeping an eye on the many hours that go past, as well as keeping myself orientated, using it as a compass via the sun’s positioning.

Jamie Maddison is a Christopher Ward Challenger. You can read more about the Challenger programme here: https://www.christopherward.co.uk/challengerprogramme.

Photography: Mark Woodward


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!

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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.

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

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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).

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

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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.

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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.

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