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Five days, 155 gruelling miles... Morson-sponsored forces veteran completes Ultra Marathon Challenge

James Kenealey morson forces

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    MORSON NEWS | 4 MIN READ

  • Morson-sponsored ex-forces veteran completes gruelling 155 mile Ultra Marathon in Jordan. 

  • Jake Gardner also recently completed a summit of Mount Elbrus in Russia


Following our recent sponsorship of the Wilderness Navigators’ Mount Elbrus challenge, we were delighted to sponsor one of its participants in an extreme marathon challenge successfully completed in early October in Jordan.

The Wadi Rum Ultra Marathon in Aqaba, Jordan, comprises 155 miles over five days. Competitors can expect to face sand dunes and temperatures reaching as high as 35 degrees throughout the course of the run, which took place between 7th and 11th October.

We caught up with our sponsored competitor Jake Gardner for him to talk us through the race.


“When I woke up on 6th October, the realisation of the enormity and seriousness of the challenge finally kicked in. This was my first ever running event. Three months of preparation with the Mount Elbrus summit in the middle with my longest run being 25 miles and it all came to this, departure day. The last pack is always an unnecessary panic, thinking you’re ready and then realising you might have forgotten something… and it was a sad goodbye to my ever-supportive wife.”

Two days after his flight to Jordan, Jake was ready to tackle day one of the race, a 46km run and the third longest of the five days.

“I basically got no sleep but I rested well. I did a bit of stretching and some mobility exercises and had scrambled eggs and a coffee. Then it was time for the off on a beautiful morning. The pace was fast at the beginning but comfortable and I found a rhythm. By 26km it was starting to get very hot and I was running with a Marine, an army guy and a man from Coasta Rica called Quentin. They were all seasoned athletes. As the run went on I began to slow down and use my sticks. Between 30km and 46km was a massive, massive struggle. I finally finish within 5 hours feeling exhausted, sick and dizzy.”

The rest of the day was spent resting, eating and hydrating. The next day would prove to be even more of a challenge for Jake – 50km, the furthest he had ever run up to that point.

“I was up at 4:30am for this leg. At the start line my back is starting to flare up. By the time I hit the 18km point I hit a wall and from then on it got worse. I slowed down dramatically, walking at times and enjoying the view. The most challenging factors were existing injuries, nausea and the relentless heat. I finally came in around 7 hours 30 minutes."

The challenge was far from over. The longest day, day three, lay immediately ahead, following a short rest and a 2am wake up.

“I started out slow in the dark which was nice because it was cooler, but it was hard, hard work. The support crew were incredible though. It was 34 degrees in the shade! I ended it in pure agony after about 16 hours and 30 minutes. Some team members walked to the finish with me for the last kilometre.

The penultimate day would see another 44km, and after getting in late in the day, Jake had less rest than some of the other competitors.

“I was destroyed after the day before, but not defeated! I had a strategy today, knowing that my back would flare up so there was an osteopath at each checkpoint. I made it home in 40th place, and there were 19 who didn’t finish.”

The final day arrived for Jake after another tough night’s sleep and another early rise at 5am. The final day was about getting to the end and Jake was keen to be setting off.


“The views as always were unforgettable. I set off at a reasonably quick pace to make up some sort of time window in the first 10/20km which worked well the day before and there was more shade today in the canyon in the morning. I walked a reasonable chunk of the course but made it back in in around 7 hours with the crew and team cheering, which was incredible. It was very emotional and when I crossed the line I was exhausted mentally and physically. It was an emotional and unforgettable experience.”


​All at Morson congratulate Jake on his amazing achievement, and look forward to being involved in his future ventures.

Currently, Morson Forces has in excess of 2,500 ex-military contract and permanent staff from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF, working across a variety of client projects in the UK and overseas. Search our forces friendly jobs here.