RUNNING: HELSBY schoolgirl Karrie Hawitt is to join Britain's golden girl Paula Radcliffe at the World Cross-Country Championships in Belgium next week.
The 17-year-old world champion fell runner won the U20s title at the Inter-Counties Championships in Nottingham by more than 20 seconds last weekend, to clinch her place in the Great Britain squad in Brussels on March 20-21. She will be in the junior women's race over 4k.
It could be a happy return to Belgium for Karrie, who finished an excellent fourth in the junior ladies' race at the Lotto Cross Cup event last year.
The Helsby High School sixth-former is still in her first year as an U20 and was competing against older athletes at Nottingham, where she achieved the second largest winning margin of the day.
She has been in great form in the country after taking a breather following her spectacular September victory at the World Mountain Running Championships in Alaska.
She had missed the European Cross-Country Championships in Edinburgh, partly because of a chest infection but another factor was the event came too soon after her rest period.
Karrie, who lives in Runcorn, is in the middle of a hectic running programme as well as studying for her A-levels. She recently received an award from Cheshire AAA, recognising her recent achievements and particularly those at the World Mountain Running Championships.
She clocked 17 minutes 24 seconds over the 4.2k course on Mount Alyeska in Girdwood, Alaska, to finish more than a minute clear of her nearest challenger in the Under 20s competition.
Karrie was only the second English girl in the 19-year history of the annual event to win a medal in the official world championships of mountain running.
She intends to continue over the fells but, in the longer term, will do more over the country. But she said: 'I want to do more on the track this year because I've never taken it seriously. My PBs are awful. They are nothing like everyone else has run. My 3,000m time is about 10:05.' Also in the GB team for Belgium is Chester-born Rob Birchall, who now lives in Peterborough. He finished sixth in the senior men's 12k race at Nottingham last weekend.