JOHN FRASER 10
The John Fraser 10 was first run in September 1998, then called the Owls John Fraser 10, and was created following the demise of the Wigston 7. This race had been organised by Owls AC for many years and was an established race on the Leicestershire road running calendar. It was run from Guthlaxton College on a route out to Countesthorpe, along the Foston road and back to Wigston via Kilby Bridge.
By 1997 increasing traffic problems meant that the Owls committee deemed the race unsafe and it was decided to look for an alternative route on more rural roads. Largely due to the efforts of Les Chesterton, the present course was planned and adopted as a 10 mile race. The course is quite tough, being largely undulating, but it is regarded as a fair course, and a good test.
At around this time one of our club members, John Fraser, sadly died at the age of 75. John had only started running in his 50’s, being encouraged by a neighbour who was an established runner. He quickly became hooked, joined the Owls and went from strength to strength, winning many age group categories in races he entered.
As he entered his 70’s, John was high on the National rankings for many distances and he tried his hand at track running as well as road. It was during this period that he actually held the world record for 3000 metres on the track for his age group.
John died just as were creating the Owls 10 and the club were very happy to formally name the race the Owls John Fraser 10 in memory of a fine athlete and club member.
237 runners finished our first race, and it is interesting to note that 23 finished under the hour, a much greater proportion than is customary nowadays. A young lady from Charnwood, Tara Krzywicki, won the Ladies’ event in a time of 58.21, which remained the Ladies record until 2009.
In 1999, 282 finished with Gareth Deacon winning in 53.04, and Nicki Nealon picking up the first of her many victories. In 2000, we had a winner from the Owls in Steve Platts, although at the time his first claim club was Morpeth. Steve was to win again in 2004, this time as a fully fledged Owl!
In 2001, we had another Owl winner, this time Nick Mapp and in a very quick time of 52.33 which stood as the course record for several years. Also inside the old record was Steve Platts in 2nd place. Beth Morris from Nuneaton won the Ladies race.
The Mens races continued to be dominated by Owls runners, with wins for Steve Platts in 2004, Gordon Lee in 2006 and the first of two wins for Mark Powell in 2007. In 2008, he triumphed for the 2nd time and was able to break Nick Mapp’s course record by clocking 51.53.
In 2008 a new Ladies winner emerged in Gemma Steel and she followed this by winning again in 2009 and smashing the course record with a time of 58.03. Gemma has gone on to gain international recognition.
2009 was the last time the race was run as the Owls John Fraser 10 as in October 2009 the club was split creating the new club of Wigston Phoenix RC and the rights to the race passed to them, hereafter being known as the John Fraser 10.
First winners of the newly named race were Nat Williams (Nth Yorks Moors AC) and Cat Draper (Barrow). The race has gained in popularity and now attracts over 500 runners. Most years, the race also incorporates the Leicestershire 10 Mile Road Running Championships.
As the race gained in popularity, the risks associated with certain parts of the course were giving cause for concern. After detailed Risk Assessments, the club adopted a changed route recommended by Ramon Howe so that from Willoughby, the course now goes to Ashby Magna, Peatling Parva, towards Peatling Magna before tuning left to Willoughby on the previous route. This new route was first run in 2014 and deemed a success. Chris Jordan of Leicester Coritanians was the Men’s winner, and Nicki Nealon again won the ladies race, 14 years after her first victory.