Year 13 pupil Fraser ran his way into the Sedbergh School history books on Tuesday, as he crossed the finish line of the Wilson Run in a time of 1:07:05, eclipsing the previous record by 57 seconds, previously held by J Campbell in 2016.

Wilson Run: Fraser crossing the finish line
Fraser crossing the finish line

The Wilson Run was formed in 1881, named after then Headmaster of Sedbergh School, Bernard Wilson. The ten-mile course across the Howgill Fells covers a multitude of terrains and gradients and was named “the oldest and toughest school run in Britain” by The Guardian. This year, the race also marked the 20th anniversary of girls racing in the Wilson Run for the first time. Katherine Harris was the first female winner in a time of 01:36:14.

From the gun, Fraser made his intentions clear. Setting off at a blistering pace, he was almost two minutes ahead at the first checkpoint and from there, he continued to extend his lead. The chasing pack, consisting of Sam Sancar, Sam Gunning, Joe Nolan & Liam Sinclair, battled it out over the course and never became more than a couple of minutes apart throughout the entire race.

It was a very similar story in the girls’ race. Year 12 pupil, Jemima, lead the race out and found herself a minute ahead of Emily Barnard at the first checkpoint. The race behind Jemima became closer and closer, with the top 10 girls only separated by five minutes at the second checkpoint.

Remarkably, Fraser passed through the final checkpoint in exactly the same time as the course record holder had done. In that final push, Fraser found another gear and kicked for home, met by a wall of noise on Lupton Field he came steaming into view and he crossed the line in 1:07:05, a truly astonishing performance from an astonishing athlete.

Fraser celebrating with his mum

It was déjà vu for Deputy Head of School Sam Sancar, as he finished second to Fraser for the second year in a row. Joe Nolan surged home to take third place, followed closely by Liam Sinclair, Freddie Hill and Oliver Bird, who made an incredible move from 12th to 6th over the last leg of the course.

Like Fraser, Jemima showed her dominance from start to finish. She recorded the fastest splits at each checkpoint and moved away from the field to finish in a time of 01:32:57. Her victory was made even sweeter as the race was started by her Grandad, Norman, who won the same race 60 years earlier. In the race for second, it was Holly Haywood who timed her effort perfectly to finish ahead of Emily Barnard in third. A well-judged run by Year 12 Bo Madden saw her secure 4th, followed by Beth Cosgrove and Vanessa Brookes in 5th and 6th respectively.

Wilson Run: Jemima crossing the finish line
Jemima crossing the finish line

After his victory, Fraser spoke of the moment he knew that he was going to break the record.

There were whispers as I was going round, but I just tried to concentrate on my running.

It wasn’t until I made it onto Lupton Field that I knew it was within reach. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. It is easily one of the best days of my life,’ said Fraser.

It was amazing running down to the finish line and everyone cheering you on was amazing, I have never felt anything like that before!‘ said Year 12 Jemima.

The pupils taking part in the 138th running of the race demonstrated the amazing fortitude of the Sedberghians who have gone before them.’ said Mr Wells, Head of Running at Sedbergh School. ‘Once more, the Sedbergh community – pupils, parents, guests and OS – came together to witness a display of athleticism, emotion and drama that creates intense memories that will last a lifetime.’

Sedbergh School Headmaster, Mr Harrison, said, ‘We witnessed a very special day in our history. 171 runners started (and finished) and a record was broken in quite spectacular fashion. I could not be prouder of this great school.’

See Sedbergh School’s online listing here.