Daniel Balchin will be looking to successfully defend his New Zealand road running title in his hometown of Christchurch on Saturday.

Last year in Masterton Balchin finally won the road crown digging deep over the closing stages to hold out Caden Shields and Jono Jackson.

This time he will be up against Shields again but regular rival Jackson will be missing as he is preparing to race the Berlin Marathon in September.

Balchin comes into the championship fresh from his win two weeks ago in the Clyde to Alexandra 10km road race where he recorded a personal best of 29:25. As well as a challenge from Shields, Balchin will face a strong field which includes Sam Wreford who recorded 31:31 in the Canterbury championships, Oska Baynes, Blair McWhirter, Aaron Pulford who ran a 1:06:26 half marathon earlier this month on the Sunshine Coast, Nick Horspool and Hayden Wilde. Wreford was the under 20 road champion in 2002 and Pulford was the under 18 road champion in 2007.

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If Laura Nagel has recovered from an injury that kept her out of defending her cross country title last month she should go favourite to retain her senior womens title. Trail runner and cross country champion Ruby Muir will be all out to make it a double this season while Esther Keown will be hoping to improve on her fourth placing last year.

Sally Gibbs (54), who will have run earlier in the day in the masters, should also be in the mix after finishing fifth last year. Also challenging for a medal will be Olivia Burne and Penny Peskett.

The manner in which Oli Chignell won the under 20 cross country crown in July, if replicated on the road, could earn him another title. Mitchell Small, the under 18 champion last year steps up to the under 20 8km, and along with James Uhlenberg, Tom Moulai, Theo Quax and Christopher Dryden will challenge the cross country champion.

Emerson Deverell who finished 24th in the junior women at the recent world mountain running championships in Italy should have a close race with Navajo Prentice for the under 20 womens title.

The under 18 mens podium placings are likely to be fought out between Samuel Tanner, Andres Hernandez and Murdoch McIntyre.

Tillie Hollyer and Joana Poland should provide a close race in the under 18 womens 5km.

Leading runners in the other grades are Josh Hou under 15 boys, Jemima Antoniazzi, Leila Dunlop, Kimberley May and Neve Moulai under 15 girls, Luke Johnston under 13 boys, Bridie Restieaux under 13 girls, Eddy Connolly under 11 boys, and Isabella Pringle and Orla Motley go head to head in the under 11 girls.

Steve Rees-Jones and Stephen Day should dominate the masters 10km championship. Rees-Jones has blitzed the field for the last two years and Day, who won the cross country outright, finished third in 2:35:20 in last weeks Noumea Marathon.

These two will be battling it out for the M40 title. Alasdair Saunders in the M35, Chris Mardon the M45, Richard Bennett the M50, Anthony Rogal the M55, Tony Price the M60, Tony McManus the M65 and Michael Bond the M70 are other favourites in the maters mens grades.

Sally Gibbs should lead in the master womens field over 5km and collect the W50 title. Katrin Gottschalk and Natasha Mitchell will be going for the W35 crown, Johanna Buick the W40, Tracy Croft the W45, Deborah Telfer the W55, Bernadette Jago the W60, Margaret Flanagan the W65 and Loris Reed the W70.

Laura Langley and Jonathon Lord are the leading contenders to collect the road walking titles. The walks are the first on the programme at 9.00am with the senior men and womens combined 10km championship the final race at 2.00pm. The championships will be conducted on a one kilometre circuit within the Canterbury Agricultural Park off Curletts Road.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Athletics New Zealand