60. Jamie Maddison; Adventurer and Ultra Runner on Nomad Life in Kazakstan, Camel Life in Uzbekistan and Eagle Hunters in Mongolia - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 60
March 19 , 2019

60. Jamie Maddison; Adventurer and Ultra Runner on Nomad Life in Kazakstan, Camel Life in Uzbekistan and Eagle Hunters in Mongolia

Adventurer and ultra runner Jamie Maddison has run 100s of miles through vast deserts, lived with a nomad in Central Asia, raced on horseback with a crazy herder on the remote old postal roads in Kazakstan, pulled a camel through 100 miles of desert in Uzbekistan and lived with eagle hunters in Mongolia. With fascinating stories about how expeditions can challenge and change you and have a surprisingly lasting effect on mental and physical health. 

Jamie stars in the short film “All That’s There” which has its UK Premiere at Four Seasons Film Festival at the BFI Film Forever on Wednesday 20th March. For more info and tickets visit www.fourseasonsfilmfestival.com. 


On this episode we explore:

His film ‘All That’s There’ about his ultra marathon in the Saryesik-Atyrau Desert, Kazakhstan

London’s Four Seasons Film Festival where his film is premiering

How he got into exploring

Growing up reading about mountaineers Joe Tasker, Pete Boardman, Joe Simpson, Chris Boddington

Climbing in the Brecon Beacons

Writing for a rock climbing magazine Climber Magazine

Fellow adventurer Matthew Traver

The incredible expedition to Kyrgyzstan

His passion for Russian Soviet history

Deciding to do a big expedition in Central Asia

His nine different expeditions

Living a dual life – working in finance marketing in the city

Balancing city work and expeditioning

Spending 6 months travelling Central Asia

Two months on horseback

Living with a herder in Uzbekistan

How it takes a long time to recover from an expedition

Getting tired of wearing t-shirts that are eight years old

Becoming quite masochistic about life

Finding balance with adventure

The need to explore and see remote regions of the world

Becoming an ultra runner

How ultra running can enable you to see the world in short periods

What is ultra running

Running 70 miles across a desert in 30 hours

The Betpak-Dala ‘desert of missfortune’ in Kazakstan

The mental challenge of running such distances

The physical challenge

The exhuastion and drained feeling lasting for months

Plunging into the river at the finishing line after 70 miles over the desert

The anticlimax of reaching the end goal

How the success means recognising the accomplishment

Being very hard on himself

Enjoyng the journey even if it’s quite painful

The beauty of Kazakstan – deserts, greenland and steppe

How The book The Mountains of Heaven by Sir Charles Howard Berry inspired him

Exploring the old postal roads of Kazakstan

Spending two months of horseback

Not being able to ride a horse!

Buying three horses and pointing them south

Camping in ‘quite-open’ tent getting eaten alive by bugs

Forgetting the bug spray

The gung-ho Kazak herdsmen who made them race horses

Galloping into the setting sun

The underlying sense of worry and lack of food

Riding for 7 hours in 40 degree heat

How this journey really changed him

Not anticipating the effect expeditions would have on him

Finding it very hard to get back into normal life

Levison Wood’s experience of this as talked about on The Big Travel Podcast

The strange experience of spending seven days by a remote river, doing nothing, saying nothing

Studying mindfulnes and meditation to be more aware of the present moment

The expedition to the east of Tajikistan in the Pamirs

One of the best places for expedition cycling

Asking a nomad if they could live with him

Sitting around waiting for the nomad to do something

The 100 mile, seven day run through Uzbekistan

Matching the pace of a camel, walking and running

Unwittingly being taken to a radioactive zone

What’sApp-ing the nomad

Conflicting feelings of giving money to people when travelling

Moral quandrys when confronted with poverty and inequalty

Explorong the flat salt-lakes of the Mangystau area of Kazakstan

Living with eagle hunters in Mongolia

A horseback journey along the Mongolian/China border

A four day bus journey to Ulaanbaatar

Paddling down a frozen river in an inflatable raft

Does he ever wonder why he’s doing this?

The need to live an extraordinary life combined with a nihilistic urge

Growing up into expeditioning and adjusting the role it plays in his life

Pairing his expeditions with a more social world; wife, hopefully kids and doing fewer trips

The one last main desert he wants to explore in Kazakhstan

The Aral Sea disaster when the Soviet Union diverted the rivers to water cotton plants

How his wife wants to just go to nice bars and restaurants and more conventional travel

How there’s no point in being snobby about travel

No shame in going to Ibiza or the Costa del Sol!

Balancing experiencing something unique but in a shorter period of time

Exploring North America or South American

His wife being from Brazil

Plans to explore Alaska and Turkmenistan