Lauren’s List of Legends: Fraser Minnican

Lauren’s List of Legends – Q and A with Fraser Minnican

#2 Fraser Minnican

Fraser Minnican, current record holder of the Frog Whitton Challenge.

On Sunday, Fraser broke the record for the Frog Whitton Challenge. He completed the 96 miles on the bike, over some of the toughest gruelling Lakes Passes, and 6 miles of swimming, in a time of 8 hours 31 minutes 55 seconds, taking 2 hours 17 minutes off the previous record.

Fraser’s background is swimming. He was ranked in the top 15 in the world in 2018 in the 400 IM. He also swam for England and had an Olympic qualifying time!… I genuinely think he is part fish! In terms of cycling, Fraser picked this up in the last year or so, as he was training for Ironman Bolton this year.

Have a read below to hear about Fraser’s experience of the Frog Whitton, how, how bio-security measures were adhered to and the importance of the support crew when taking on challenges like this.

Mitch (left), Sam (middle), Fraser (right) about to embark on the Mega Challenge ahead.

How are the legs / shoulders feeling today?!

My legs don’t feel that bad, which is very strange because getting out of the final swim in Rydal Water they cramped up so bad I couldn’t stand up, so I just had to lie in the water floating about… My shoulders and lower back are sore though. It’s the first time I’ve swam anything over 5k since I retired from swimming a couple years back. Big stretch today to start the recovery is on the cards. I’ve got some pretty bad tan lines from the day as well!

What was your motivation behind the challenge?

I had entered Ironman UK which was to be held on this day (12th July) but it understandably got cancelled like many other events. A friend sent a link to the Frog Whitton website and jokingly said I should give it a go… and that was it! I was still following my triathlon training plan so just thought it would be a good idea to direct my fitness into the Frog instead.

I thought it would be a great idea to try and raise some money for charity whilst doing the challenge and chose one that is close to my family who helped support them through my young cousins brain tumour treatment, The Pituitary Foundation. Being the person that I am, I wanted to do the event as best I could and I always (sometimes annoyingly apparently) give 110% to make sure this happens. (Find the link to Fraser’s JustGiving page here).

Fraser, cycling up Wrynose Pass.

It’s such a big event, with lots of logistics to think about, how did you manage to organise it?

People. I had so many people involved, I literally couldn’t have done this on my own. I appointed my fiancé (Lauren Wray) as Team Manager and we sat down every night for a few weeks to plan different aspects. I spoke to anyone and everyone for advice and help on different things about the route, nutrition, logistics and to borrow equipment we didn’t have. I made up some little info cards for each of the legs so my support crew knew exactly where they needed to be, at what time and to be ready with which gear. This was a perfectly laid out plan, until they started getting stuck in holiday traffic!!

Bio-security is a really sensitive topic, especially as Derwentwater unfortunately is now home to New Zealand Pigmyweed, an alien, Non-Native Invasive Species… what steps did you take to prevent the spread of this?

Bio-security is very important and I wanted to make sure we did everything possible to avoid contamination. I had planned on hiring multiple wetsuits for each different swim leg but due to the current situation, no one is lending them. I had 2 wetsuits for the day and and a different set of hat and goggles for each leg. I made sure that once I had worn anything in Derwent, it wouldn’t be worn again by putting it all in a big plastic tub. I made a point of telling everyone on the team that if they entered Derwent, they would need to change clothes too if they planned on going in Crummock or Rydal after. They kayak got rinsed with water and wiped down before and after each leg. Even the dog was rinsed!

Fraser and Nathan about to exit Crummock Water.

Which was the most challenging section?

At first I would’ve said the swim in Derwentwater. It was so windy and wavy for a lake I didn’t know it was even possible for a lake! Being a pool swimmer I didn’t take kindly to having a wave pushing me back every couple of seconds.

Once I’d finished this swim I didn’t think it could get much worse… until the end of the Rydal swim. It was so painful it was funny. Double hamstring cramp preventing me from bending my leg and then quad cramp when I straightened them. I thought I’d be lying there for the rest of the day it was that bad! But once I’d crawled out and onto the grass it was just funny!

Did you find the cycle legs or swim stints harder?

I openly admit that I underestimated the challenge. It’s nearly a full Fred Whitton with 6 miles if open water swimming thrown in… I aimed for a time of 9 hours, which leading up to the day even I thought that was very ambitious. I set off far too quick on the first bike leg with all the adrenaline and then the first swim was almost out of panic. After that, I started to relax into it a bit more.

Physically, I’d say the bike legs were harder because when I was on the bike I was just riding hard non stop, but I had people with me the whole time to chat with. Mentally, the swims were harder for me, partly because I’m not a huge fan of open water, especially in Derwent. Crummock was the best swim as it just felt so relaxed and the water felt clean.

The cycling and swim support crew at the end of the challenge.

Ben, the previous record holder, came and cycled the last section with you – did this Frog Whitton challenge feel like you were part of cool, supportive community?

Yes, Ben came out on the day and we actually rode past him as we we leaving Crummock Water. Getting out of the last swim to have him ride the final leg with me was a great feeling. This challenge was his whole idea and he is obviously really proud of it so to have him come and show his support really meant a lot! I spoke with him on the phone the week before to ask about the route and to make sure I followed the rules he set out because I wanted to do his challenge justice. I guess being the only other person to complete it does give some kind of community now and I hope I can offer help and advice to others who want to take on the challenge!

Ben, the previous record holder and founder of the Frog Whitton Challenge (left) and Fraser, current record holder (right).

Are you excited for someone else in the future who may try and go for your record?

Of course! Obviously I love for my record to stand but it’s there to be broken now! There are probably different aspects of the day where time was lost and just generally places where things could have been done quicker so there is definitely room for it to be beaten! Even if someone sees this event and it gets them to challenge themselves to do something really tough, then that’s awesome!

Finally, my favourite inspirational words from Fraser…

Don’t be afraid to get out there into the unknown and test yourself, chances are you’ll find something about yourself you didn’t even know!

Lauren, Team Manager for the Challenge, and Fraser, looking super happy (and relieved) the Challenge is over!




The Frog Whitton Challenge:

The Pituatry Foundation:

Just Giving Page:


Author: L M B

Fumbling around the world trying to find the purpose of my existence. Quite like sharing my thoughts with others.

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