Former Navy Player Sets World Endurance Record

Jack Fleckney – former Royal Marine now gym owner. Image © Alligin Photography
The pain of an endurance challenge. Image credit: Instagram @jackfleckney9
A new world record holder. Image credit: Instagram @saintsfdation
In the thick of the action, Jack against the Army 2013. Image © Alligin Photography
Surveying the options, Jack against the RAF 2014. Image © Alligin Photography

Former Royal Marine, and Royal Navy player, Jack Fleckney, last month set a new endurance record for his age category on the SkiErg machine.  The new record stands at 283,131m in 24 hours and the successful record attempt has raised £7199 for the Northampton Saints Foundation.

After 4 years in the Royal Marines, which saw him win 6 caps for the Royal Navy Rugby Union, Jack Fleckney left the Corps to return to his Northamptonshire roots to set up a gym and focus on his cross-fit aims.  In just over 5 years from his first gym opening he now runs a company with its own franchises, rose to number 12 in the Mens UK Cross Fit ranking and has now broken the 24-hour SkiErg endurance record whilst raising money for Northampton Saints Foundation.  Pushing through the pain of an arm injury he added over 8000m to the record which he has now set at 283,131m.  His try in the 2013 Army v Navy match was greeted by thousands of cheering fans but at 08:00am on Sunday 7 June there was just a handful in the gym to celebrate his achievement as he sunk exhausted on the SkiErg satisfied that through grit and resilience he had achieved his goal and become a world record breaker. 

Northampton Saints, home club for Navy player Sam Matavesi, like most top professional clubs, use the SkiErg as part of their conditioning regime.  It is a piece of equipment feared by the players.  The SkiErg machine replicates the double-pole movement used during Nordic skiing, but works the legs just as hard as the arms and shoulders to create a full-body workout.  For those who are familiar with the indoor rowing machine, the SkiErg is the Nordic equivalent, and most gyms make use of the equipment manufactured by Concept2.  Concept2 provide some advice when starting out on the SkiErg; “When you first use the SkiErg, resist the temptation to do too much too soon.”  I am not sure what plan they would recommend to achieve just shy of 176miles in 24 hours.  But it would make interesting reading. 

In breaking the record Jack raised £7199 of much needed funds for the Northampton Saints Foundation.  Speaking before the event Jordan Letts, Head of the Foundation, said: “This is a mammoth challenge to take on, a really incredible effort of strength and endurance, and we are so grateful to Jack.  All our fundraising is impacted by lack of events at the moment, and any funds Jack raises will be used to help support the Saints Foundation’s aims of educating, inspiring and supporting young people within our community.” 

And it is community and helping others that shines through Jack’s cv and is recognised by those who know him well.  Having been part of the Wasps Academy he spent just over 4 years as a Royal Marine.  During this time, he won 6 Royal Navy Rugby Union caps, playing in 3 Army v Navy matches including scoring a try in the 2013 game.  Leaving the Royal Marines, he returned to his Northamptonshire home and started Crossfit East Northants in a warehouse with what could best be described as limited facilities.  However, his passion to inspire and develop others overcame the obstacles and the business established itself, slowly expanded and in 2017 was rebranded as ShireFit.  A second gym, also in Northamptonshire, was opened in 2018 before the franchise was expanded further afield to Wolverhampton and West Yorkshire.  Online classes were introduced to mitigate the effects of Covid19 restrictions and like many gyms across the country ShireFit are now just waiting for restrictions to ease so they can welcome back their clients.  Not content with building his successful business Jack has also found time to sit as a Governor for his local school and most recently support the aims of the Saints Foundation in helping young people succeed in life. 

These youngsters must have been inspired following Jack as he built up to the challenge.  On his journey to the 6 June 08:00 start he first beat his own PB for the marathon distance on the SkiErg before also achieving a PB for 88,000m.  Finally, he set the 4th fastest 100,000m of all time even though suffering from cramp in his forearms.  The youngsters will also benefit from Jack’s hours of sweat and toil as his challenge broke through the £5,000 goal he set himself and is currently over £7000 raised for the Saints Foundation.  

And in Jack’s own words: “It was a great challenge and tested me in the final 4 hours when I had to SkiErg one handed due to a muscle issue. A little bit of suffering is good for the soul!  Now to decide what’s next?......”

Congratulations from all at the Royal Navy Rugby Union to Jack for a remarkable, record breaking achievement.

To contribute to the Northampton Saints Foundation visit: Virgin Money Giving 

By line: Geraint Ashton Jones