Zara is on the climb in mountain running

Zara Knappy will make her Great Britain & Northern Ireland mountain running debut next month

Zara Knappy will make her Great Britain & Northern Ireland mountain running debut next month

First published in Sport
Last updated

The incline is getting steeper as far as Zara Knappy's mountain running is going.

Having represented England three times in the discipline, the 18-year-old from Keighley will make her debut for Great Britain and Northern Ireland next month in the European Championships in France.

The Keighley & Craven Athletics Club member finished third last weekend in round two of the British Athletics Mountain Running Challenge at Whinlatter Forest, near Keswick, which was essentially a trial for the Europeans.

That bronze in the junior women's category clinched the teenager's place at Gap in France on Saturday, July 12, alongside race winner Georgia Malir (Ilkley Harriers), runner-up Catriona Greaves (Garscube Harriers) and fourth-placed Lydia Sharpe (Eryri Harriers).

Former Oakbank pupil Zara, who is awaiting her A-Level results in maths, PE and psychology before hopefully going to Leeds University for mathematical studies, is looking forward to her Gap weekend, saying: "The course is 4.25km with 250 metres of climb, whereas the trial was a 4.5km course with 250 metres of climb.

"The difference between fell running and mountain running is that you can run all of the latter, although the woodland and trail paths are very steep, whereas with fell running there might be gates and walls etc.

"Team GB are hopeful of team medals in France, and maybe individual medals from people such as Georgia, who is more experienced than me at mountain running, although we share the same coach in Andrew Henderson from Leeds Met University.

"I am sure we will be having some hard sessions with Andrew before we go to Gap, while I will also be doing some track and field for my club over the summer to keep my speed up for cross-country in the winter - at anything from 800 metres to 1500m or 3000m.

"Leeds Met is my fall back if I don't get the grades to go to Leeds University."

Malir won the junior women's race last weekend in 19min 52sec, with Graves clocking 20:02 and Knappy 20:21, Sharpe being only two seconds behind in fourth.

Historically, Great Britain's junior women do well at the European Championships, and they will be spearheaded by Malir and Graves, who were fifth and sixth at last year's World Championships.

Henderson also coaches Bingley Harrier Emma Clayton, who won the senior women's race at Keswick in 37:42, 14 seconds ahead of local woman Sarah Tunstall, to qualify for Gap.

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