28/12/2012 19:59 GMT

Ultra Marathon Man, Jack Denness, 77, Awarded MBE For Charity Work

A grandfather, awarded an MBE after raising thousands for children's charities by completing gruelling desert marathons, said he was shocked the honour had gone to an "ordinary fella".

Jack Denness, 77, from Rochester, Kent, was awarded the Member Of The Order Of The British Empire for services to charity.

Since he gave up smoking aged 45, the school caretaker has completed 12, 135-mile Badwater Ultra marathons through the scorching Nevada desert heat of up to 55 degrees.

In addition, "Death Valley Jack" has completed more than 100 marathons and scores of half marathons and a dozen London marathons to help raise cash for causes to help children with conditions such as cerebral palsy.

In total, he has raised more than £100,000 completing all his runs.

The father-of-two, who is married to Mags, said of learning about the honour: "My first reaction was of disbelief.

"I thought it was a wind up when I saw the letter with On Her Majesty's Service written on the envelope and inside it said it was from the Cabinet Office, I thought, 'oh dear, what have I done wrong'.

"Then I read it and I was shocked they would give this to me. I'm just an ordinary fella from a humble background."

His last endurance race was in 2010 aged 75 when he completed the race through Death Valley in California in 59 hours and 13 minutes. He broke his own record of being the oldest person to finish the race.

Mr Denness has now given up running but said he is still taking part in charity walks.