The 2019 edition of the New Forest Marathon event featured Bournemouth AC members of all shapes and sizes and revealed some great potential amongst the youngsters who turned out.
Isabel Cherrett, in particular, is one who has shown great promise over recent weeks. She’s been training with the junior development group at Kings Park on Thursday evenings and is the daughter of Phil Cherrett who is a member of the road runners group.
At the tender age of 10, Isabel has been posted some incredibly impressive parkrun times of late, with her best time so far standing at 22:02.
Naturally, she gets a lot of support from her father who is also a fast runner as well and it clearly must be in the genetics. This was Isabel’s first race away from parkrun though so it was her debut in a BAC vest.
It was also her first trail run as well and the first time she’d worn trail shoes so it was going to be interesting to see how she handled it. Because she’s only 10, Phil had to stay by her side the entire race, which meant the pressure was on him to try and keep up with her!
Fortunately Phil has also been in great form recently, posting three sub-20-minute 5ks on the bounce. His last one was at the Lytchett Relays, where he secured a superb new PB of 19:31.
Also in action from the junior development squad was Nathan Mearns, who is just 12 years of age. Nathan had got his parkrun time down to just over 23 minutes at Moors Valley and looks a real prospect for the future.
Defending his title from last year’s race, Chris Phelan-Heath was also in the starting line-up for the 5k race. He had a definitive lack of quality training behind him though with his work preventing him from getting out and running as much as he would have liked.
As well as the 5k that all of the above competed in, the New Forest Marathon event also features a 10k race, a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon. Katrina White was the only other Bournemouth AC runner to contest any of those distances. She opted for the Half Marathon race.
Currently training for the Half Marathon at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival as her main target race, Katrina is hoping to finish in around 1 hour 45 minutes.
Of course, the BMF Half Marathon should in theory be a lot more straight forward than the New Forest one, given that it’s run entirely on tarmac and a lot of the course is along the promenade.
With the New Forest Half Marathon being on a multi-terrain course through the heart of the New Forest, you would expect it to be a slightly tougher route than what Katrina will face at the BMF.
Before the 5k race started Phil bumped into Chris and, having done the race before, Chris was able to talk Isabel through the starting procedure and advised them to ensure they get near the front before it gets underway.
It was a fast and furious race to begin with and, although it wasn’t the largest of fields, loads of people flew past Phil and Isabel. After a couple of minutes it settled down though and Isabel was able to find her rhythm.
Phil finds Isabel to be a joy to run with. She always works hard but makes it look effortless. From 1km in she started picking people off who were ahead, including a number of girls had set off too quickly.
As they got to about 4.5k, Phil let Isabel know that she was on for setting a new 5k PB and sure enough, as they went through 5k he clocked her at 21:58.
Unfortunately though, the course was a little over 5k and there was still over 300m to go. Amazingly, Isabel kept pushing though, making to the finish line in 23:04. That put her in 15th place out of 275 runners. It was a truly magnificent run from her and she received lots of congratulations and plaudits afterwards.
They then stopped off at the race village for lunch where the results for the 5k race were announced. Isabel had finished 1st in her age category and 3rd lady overall out of 172. Not a bad return for her first outing in a BAC vest.
She received a medal, a t-shirt, free entry into next year’s race and some vouchers for trainers. It really was the perfect race from her perspective. Isabel absolutely loves to run and enjoys the training even more. It’s her favourite thing to do, which is something she and her dad both have in common.
Nathan Mearns also put in a good performance to take 28th place overall in a time of 25:54. That made him 9th quickest in his age category.
As for Chris Phelan-Heath, he was unable to replicate his splendid victory from last year and was forced to settle for 4th place this time round. His time of 19:36 did earn him 1st place in the M30 category though but it wasn’t quite what he’d hoped for.
It was, however, a fair reflection on where he is right now off the back of the limited training he’s been having. Sometimes it can be like that though and work or other aspects can make it disrupt training routines which consequently make it tough to maintain the levels. No doubt he’ll be back to his best again in the near future.
In the Half Marathon, Katrina White completed the course in 1:50:57 which put her in 515th position out of 2,049. She was the 90th woman over the line out of 1,012 and 17th out of 186 in the F20 bracket.
That was a promising run from Katrina and if she can produce a time like that on a mixed terrain it will give her every chance of achieving the time she wants at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. She’ll certainly take some confidence from this run anyway.
In the other races, there was a win for former Bournemouth AC man Sean Edwards, now representing Lytchett Manor Striders again. He seems to have rediscovered his top form, racing round in a superb time of 35:23.
In the Marathon, it was Rob Forbes of Cirencester AC who swooped in for the win, clocking a time of 2:40:35. There were only three seconds splitting him from his closest rival Ty Farrer from Huntingdonshire AC.
What was great about the New Forest Marathon event though was that it presented the chance for youngsters to shine in the 5k race and there was even a Junior Race where even younger kids could take part.
At the same time though, there were some very competitive races featuring plenty of high calibre athletes at the front of the field. And of course, best of all, it was set in the picturesque surroundings of the New Forest. What more could you ask for?