Isabel Cherrett in full flow at the South West Schools' Cross Country Championships

Isabel Cherrett was representing Dorset in the South West Schools’ Cross Country Championships at RNAS Merryfield

Without a doubt one of Bournemouth AC‘s most promising young athletes, Isabel Cherrett has been progressing remarkably well of late. Cutting her parkrun times down to under 18 minutes, she’d won the Dorset Schools’ Cross Country Championships in January at Kings Park and all the signs were there that she was on verge of achieving something truly spectacular.

Despite her obvious talent, exemplary attitude and work ethic, along with her many impressive performances, there was still a sense that Isabel hadn’t quite had her moment yet. For a variety of reasons, it just hadn’t quite come together for her in a really big cross country race. She’d had incidents where she’d slipped over and been spiked, gone the wrong way and even had an unexpected dog interruption, all scuppering her chances of achieving the success that she was well capable of.

What she didn’t do though was she didn’t sulk or moan about it. She didn’t let it discourage her from continuing to train hard and aspiring to be the very best that she can be. She carried on, knowing that if she kept the belief, her moment will come.

Coached attentively by her dad Phil, Isabel couldn’t really have hoped to have a more positive influence guiding her on her journey. Phil has many connections to Bournemouth AC and is always there with some words of encouragement, not just to Isabel but to everyone he knows really. He always takes an interest in how others are doing and his positivity is revered by many.

Isabel moves gracefully across the grass

Isabel works her way up to the front of the pack

Being Dorset Schools’ Champion, Isabel was afforded selection for the South West Schools’ Championships at RNAS Merryfield in Taunton, where she would represent her county. It was a huge race for her and after finishing 9th in the event last year, she was hoping for even better this time round. In an event of that magnitude though, the competition was always going to be fierce.

Isabel Cherrett racing for Dorset in the South West Schools' Cross Country Championships

It wasn’t long before Isabel took the lead and began to drive the pace

Isabel had already raced at RNAS Merryfield once this year, finishing 3rd in the South West Inter County Championships on the first weekend of January. That was an extremely impressive result in such a prestigious fixture. Now she was striving for an even better result at the South West Schools’ Championships.

In 10th place after the first few hundred metres, Isabel had taken the lead the first corner, demonstrating great courage to take it on. She led a group of eight runners for the first 2km lap before making an even braver decision to pull away at the start of the second lap. It proved to be right decision as she held her advantage and made it to the finish line in first place, clocking a time of 13 minutes 33 seconds. That was over a 3.7km course.

Isabel Cherrett on her way to winning the Under 17 women's race at the South West Schools' Cross Country Championships

The other girls were unable to match Isabel’s exhilarating speed

She’d made it to the line 17 seconds ahead of her nearest challenger, Paige Quinn, of Torbay. It was an incredible result for Isabel and it was great to see her realise the potential that she has. It was a tough course with a lot of mud and some very testing inclines but that’s the kind of environment Isabel thrives in. She’d seized her opportunity, delivering the performance she craved and most importantly, getting the result she deserved.

Isabel Cherrett giving her all in the South West Schools' Cross Country Championships

It was a race to remember for Isabel as she got everything right and performed like a champion

Suffice to say, she was delighted with how it went and perhaps a little shocked even to be declared South West Schools’ Inter Girls Cross Country Champion. Especially since it was an Under 17 women’s race and Isabel was in the Under 15 category, so she was competing with girls in the year above her.

Other Bournemouth AC members competing at the South West Schools’ Championships included Oliver Canavan who came 24th in the Under 17 Men‘s race and was 9th Under 15. He recorded a time of 16 minutes 16 seconds for the 4.75km course. Isaac May was in that race as well and he came 42nd and 15th Under 15. His time was 16:51.

In the Under 13 boys race, Finley Hurst Atkins finished 19th out of 65 runners. His time for the 2.6km course was 9 minutes 37 seconds. Reuben Holleran was in that race as well and he came 28th in a time of 9:42.

Since that win Isabel has gone on post a fabulous new parkrun PB of 17:24 which is an astonishing time or an athlete of her age. She then went on to finish 2nd at Blandford parkrun the weekend after in 17:51.

There is very much a feeling that her South West Schools’ Championship win is just the beginning for Isabel. With the talent she has and the way that she trains, her potential truly has no bounds and it will be exciting to see what she can achieve in the coming years.