Sailor prevails in marathon feat

Marathon runner CPO2 Chris Fraser of CFB Esquimalt runs the Victoria Goodlife Fitness Marathon on Oct. 13. CPO2 Fraser finished the 42-kilometre course in a time of 5:55:06 while wearing full firefighter gear weighing approximately 25 lbs, Credit: Mark Cunningham. *** Le PM 2 Chris Fraser, marathonien de la BFC Esquimalt, participe au marathon Goodlife Fitness de Victoria le 13 octobre dernier. Vêtu d’un uniforme complet de pompier pesant environ 25 livres, le PM 2 Fraser a achevé la course de 42 kilomètres avec un temps de 5 heures 55 minutes et 6 secondes. Photo : Mark Cunningham

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Peter Mallett

Running the Victoria Goodlife Fitness Marathon in full firefighter gear with the heavy breathing apparatus had a “surreal feel to it” admits Chief Petty Officer Second Class Chris Fraser.

The 49-year-old Weapons Engineering Technician who works for Canadian Fleet Pacific, battled muscle fatigue and exhaustion, but was greeted with cheers of support from co-workers and friends after completing the 42.2 kilometre course in 5:55:06 on Oct. 13.

He ran the race as a fundraiser for the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) and also believes the feat set a Guinness World Record under the category of Fastest Runner Wearing a Firefighter’s Uniform and Breathing Apparatus.

He is still waiting for confirmation on the world record.

“This was a very hard endeavour both physically and mentally,” said CPO2 Fraser. “Physically I was exhausted earlier than anticipated, which compounded the mental aspect of the run. From the 24 kilometre mark it was just pure determination that made the difference.”

The heavy oxygen tank and firefighter’s uniform worn by CPO2 Fraser weighed approximately 25 lbs and included sea boots in place of running shoes. The equipment is protective safety gear commonly worn by Royal Canadian Navy duty technicians, containment managers, and boundary sentries for damage control purposes.

While friends, family and co-workers came out to support him and cheer him on, there were others who scoffed and told him flatly “You’re crazy for doing this,” says CPO2 Fraser.

He also contemplated quitting his run on multiple occasions during the race. By the half-way point of the marathon he was struggling to run or even move his legs and slowed to a walk to take multiple pre-planned breaks.

“From 24 km to the 38-km marker I was debating with myself whether or not to give up,” said CPO2 Fraser. “As much as one side of myself was shouting to quit, the whispers of taking one step closer to the finish line were stronger.”

He almost didn’t make it to the finish line inside the six hour time limit required by marathon regulations to officially record his marathon time. But when the finish line came into sight, he noticed the clock was counting down perilously close to the time limit. With his muscles cramping and blisters beginning to grind on his feet, he gave one final push and crossed the finish line with just four minutes and 54 seconds to spare.

His wife Natalia Lebedynsky and son Andriy were wearing t-shirts that read ‘Go CCPO2 Fraser Go’ and cheered wildly as he crossed the finish line. They were joined by his friends and co-workers that included Captain (Navy) Scott Robinson, Deputy Commander of CANFLTPAC.

“His grit and determination to push himself for almost six hours straight and in gruelling conditions is truly remarkable,” said Capt (Navy) Robinson. “I was awestruck by his resilience and he is truly an inspiration to sailors everywhere.”

Two days ahead of the race the MFRC presented CPO2 Fraser with an MFRC vest and baseball hat to show their appreciation, and were there to cheer him on during the race.

“It takes a kind heart, passion and commitment to walk in the same footsteps as CPO2 Fraser,” said Lisa Church, Esquimalt MFRC Community Engagement Manager.

Inspirational or not, CPO2 Fraser admits he will never attempt to run another marathon in firefighter’s gear, but says the overwhelming exhaustion was well worth it.

“Not too many people can say they have attempted to set a Guinness World Record, and each dollar raised is that little bit extra to support the MFRC, their cause and the families they support,” said CPO2 Fraser.

To support the MFRC fundraiser visit the web page: https://bit.ly/35KZ7Cn

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