Fraser's fantastic Challenge ends in gold medal glory!

Hello folks We at are no strangers to meeting up with Fraser Watson, but usually it’s at a local sporting venue to cover a game or over a relaxed coffee to discuss the sporting action for the week ahead. 
But when he saw him last Monday night at County Hall, for once he wasn’t in the mood for talking. But maybe understandably so, as Fraser had just completed his first Ultra Running LTD event which had seen him run a total of 113 miles inside 96 hours! 
He’d needed to hit 100 miles to earn the honorary ‘gold finishers medal’ he was after - and was one of just 12 out of the 28 entrants from all over the UK who managed to make the magic three figures. 

Invited to run 100 miles after winning a 10K race!

He had been invited to compete courtesy of winning the Pendine Sands 10k last April, an event organised by the Ultra Running Company. He readily admitted it was considerably longer than his usual race distance, but recent circumstances tempted him to sign up. 
All those who took part were designated a four day period, starting at midnight on Friday, July 31st and ending the same time on Monday, August 3rd
So when all was said done, and we allowed the exhausted (and slightly mad) reporter some time to drink copious amounts of water and stagger around the car park recovering, we are delighted to report he agreed to sit down and join us for a socially distanced chat.  
We don’t know whether to describe his escapades as an event or an ordeal, but it made for a fascinating interview all the same. 

Manor Owen FishguardFraser gives in to temptation after taking his own trial

“I’ve been regularly competing in 10k races for a year or so now but had never contemplated anything further,” Fraser admitted to us. 
“But all my scheduled events were cancelled this summer for obvious reasons, so when the e-mail came through I did think about it as a challenge to take me completely out of my comfort zone. 
“I did a trial four-day period last month where I hit about 64 miles and felt I had more left in the tank. So I decided to go for it.” 

. . . -and then starts shopping! 

NewgaleNow Fraser is better known in local sporting circles for his rugby, having represented St Davids for most of his career between spells at Llanelli RFC and Whitland, but even after switching to the endurance stuff last year he still found himself having to make a few purchases in order to be adequately prepared! 
“All the miles had to be submitted via a private Strava group along with photo evidence of your bib number and screenshots from a running watch. It meant me having to get a Garmin so that I didn’t need to carry my phone with me to monitor the distances – which I’d been previously doing. 
“I was able to source an extra couple of pairs of running trainers too as mine had taken a bit of a battering during lockdown.” 

A nervous start to the first big day

A few dietary changes were made in the days leading up to the first morning as well, with a bit of extra pasta consumed, but the night before didn’t go smoothly! 
“I’ve never been one capable of switching off and relaxing before sport,” said Fraser. 
“Very few people knew I was doing this, I didn’t want any kind of build up or fuss. 
“I was anxious on the Thursday night and only slept for about two or three hours. In the end I got up about 4am, ate breakfast, and set off about 6am. I think Keeley (Fraser’s fiancé) was pleased to see me go out the door.” 

Fraser just hits 100 milesDay one – a tough morning and a lonely run home under real pressure! 

Fraser’s first run took him on a familiar route, from his house in Pen Y Garn in St Davids to Croesgoch, with a loop around some country lanes and then a return on the back roads past the cricket ground at Llanrhian. 
It totalled up to more than 14 miles, and it didn’t get any easier in the evening with the very understanding Keeley dropping him off at Phoenix Park, the home of Goodwick United FC – before a 16 mile trek home in fading light! 
“I made some mistakes on that first day and had some dark moments,” Fraser admitted, candidly. 
“I tried to hold back my pace on the first morning but ended up doing just over eight minute miles, in hindsight I should have slowed that down a lot more. 
“But the run from Goodwick felt brutal. For the first seven or eight miles I felt a long way from home and going up Mathry Hill really drained me.” 

And there was also a meeting with some old friends . . . 

100 yards to goTo top it off, when Fraser passed one of local cricket’s most notorious venues, the home of Llanrhian CC, he was held up in an all too familiar manner! 
“Typically, some cows had escaped over the hedges on one of the nearby fields and the farmer was leading them back across the road. I tried to swerve around them but they weren’t too sympathetic.” 
He made it back to St Davids in one piece though with more than 30 miles under his belt, and swiftly headed for Whitesands Beach for an alternative ‘ice bath’ in the sea! 

Day two – 30 more miles and a ‘sprint’ to the Sloop! 

The second day was a little more complicated – not least because Fraser endured another nigh on sleepless night, had a work shift to complete, and a possible game of cricket to negotiate as well! 
“I didn’t feel good that morning as inevitably I seized up during the night. I thought I’d sleep well but was awake with aching legs. 
“My first route was similar to the previous morning but with a few extra back roads added on. I managed to chalk off another 15 plus miles but it actually turned out to be my slowest run of the four days – I felt like I was going through the motions and the 100 mile target felt a long way away.” 

A lap of honourStill time for a bit of cricket between runs . . .

There was little time to dwell though as it was a case of getting home, eating quickly, and throwing on the cricket whites before driving down to Lamphey where he was part of Llanrhian’s 12 man squad for their Harrison-Allen Bowl match. 
“Provisionally I was 12th man but one of our players, Anthony Couzens, was always going to be 50/50 and couldn’t confirm until late morning. 
“I was already in Lamphey when the phone rang and it was him. Usually I’d want to be in the XI but I’ve never been so relieved to hear the words ‘I’m on my way’.” 

. . . and collecting cricket scores before a glass of water at The Sloop!

Done it!It allowed Fraser a bit of rest while he chased up other scores and scorers for his work with the Western Telegraph, and despite a very brief fielding stint he was ok to set off again later that evening. And there was only one place he wanted to finish! 
“I knew the rest of the boys would be in the Sloop and there is a big 1.5 mile downhill finish to there. 
“So I targeted over 14 miles and ironically felt much better than I had done in the morning. 
“Only problem was when I got there, the place was so busy I had to queue for ages just for a glass of water.” 
Luckily, the well-known Morgan ‘Moon’ Miles managed to sort him out, and after heading to Porthgain Harbour for more impromptu cold water treatment it was the wonderful Keeley who picked him up to take him back home – with more than 60 miles now chalked up. 

Day three – a morning drop off in Mathry and knackered in Newgale! 

On the Sunday morning, Fraser was dropped off at the top of Mathry to embark on a 13 mile route back to Pen-Y-Garn, strategically ensuring there were downhill sections than arduous climbs, before heading to Haverfordwest and a brief work stint in the Telegraph office. 
From there, he started his most memorable run of the four days. 
“I went from the office, around Freemen’s Way, and then headed for Newgale Beach,” he recalled. 
“I knew that would chalk off another 13 miles or so and again, my body felt better than it had done that morning. But it was a glorious Sunday evening and when I went past the Victoria Inn at Roch (owned by Neyland cricketer Andrew Miller) the pub was packed. 
“One woman held up a bottle and asked if I wanted a beer. I was pretty jealous.” 
Keeley and the couple’s young children, Tyler and Ivy, were there waiting for Fraser on the beach with four-year-old Tyler even joining in for the last 30 metres as he ran alongside his dad. 
“He did it quicker than I did and for once, I had no desire to be competitive and overtake him.” 

Then comes the pain!Accidental meeting with Jazz Joyce and refreshing sea water at Newgale

It was here Fraser also bumped into Jasmine Joyce, the international rugby star who also hails from St Davids, who with good reason gave him a slightly confused look. 
“Jasmine had been doing some work in Abereiddy so had seen me running on the backroads already that morning. When she saw me coming into Newgale looking exhausted she probably wondered what the hell I was doing.” 
This time it was the sea in Newgale that provided the cold water on the legs and with more than 86 miles now done, Fraser went to bed knowing the finish was at least in sight. 

Day four – pushing through the pain before a fruit cider to celebrate! 

Fraser woke up on the Monday just 14 miles short of what was needed, but creaking limbs prompted a brave change of plan. 
“I’ve rarely felt as bad physically as I did that Monday morning,” he admitted. 
“My right knee was giving me shooting pains and my groins and thighs and tightened up completely. My original plan had been two shortened runs on the last day but the thought of stopping, seizing up further, and going again concerned me. 
“So I decided I had to try and finish this on run seven – one earlier than intended.” 
So after the now trusty daily breakfast of weetabix, granola, fruit and yoghurt his route took again took from home out towards Croesgoch, past Penysgwarn Farm, towards Fishguard and then back to Britain’s smallest city.
“I practically limped through mile one before I managed to get into it.  
“Just before I got to St Davids RFC my watch Garmin watch beeped to signal 14 miles but I can’t say I felt elated, just tired. Getting home was a relief through – I knew now whatever happened I’d secured a Gold finishers’ medal.” 

 Back home after the finishFraser makes an OCD-related decision

Typically, this wasn’t enough for Fraser, who after another shift in the Telegraph office decided to fulfil his pre-event plan to do an eighth and final effort – a 10.4 mile trek out that meant heading to Johnston and finishing up in County Hall. 
“It was a bit of an OCD-related call that I admit,” he laughed. 
“But I felt like I had a bit more left and I’d planned for eight runs.” 
And he saw some familiar faces as he struggled up and down Dredgeman’s Hill. 
“Lee Day, Henry Durrant, Luke Hayward, and Stephen Morris were among those to drive past and all later messaged me to say I didn’t look good, which was charming. 
“But in all honesty while I've no doubt I didn't a look a million dollars by that point, I didn’t feel that bad. Mentally I’d relaxed knowing I was already over the line and there was nothing more to come.” 

Looking very tired in Haverfordwest – but a wonderful achievement

He won’t mind us saying he didn’t look too relaxed when he arrived back in Haverfordwest but managed to smile (or maybe grimace) for the camera during the final few metres, and we did allow him some recovery time before he came round enough to speak about his efforts! 
When Fraser’s legs managed to function enough for him to drive home that night, it was a case of one bottle of fruit cider to celebrate while Tyler and Ivy mercilessly jumped on his aching body! 

An uncomfortable aftermath . . .

Frasers MedalWe spoke to him again four days later to gauge how he was feeling. 
“I managed one alcoholic drink and can honestly say that the next morning – I’ve never felt so hungover. 
“Three toe nails had also bitten the dust and there were blisters aplenty. Let’s just say I didn’t do too much the next day – and it was the Friday after before I could safely put a pair of socks on again.” 
We at did of course push him on what his next test would be, but he remained tight lipped – although knowing him we suspect there is another seemingly insane challenge in the pipeline! 

. . . And a message for Big ‘Moggs’! 

But he finished on a poignant note with a message for his great mate Chris ‘Moggs’ Morgan, the larger than life St Davids prop who has had a difficult time with illness as of late. 
“You obviously have some tough moments during an event like that where you have to dig deep – but it’s pittance compared to what people like him are currently battling. 
“I kept telling myself that and those 113 miles are dedicated to him.” 
We couldn’t think of a nicer way to round off this feature – and all of us at commend Fraser on his medal winning exploits, but have already politely declined the offer to join him for the 2021 version next summer! 

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