She couldn't defend her national crosscountry crown in July but Laura Nagel is itching to return with her senior women's title from the New Zealand Road Championships in Christchurch tomorrow.
"Two days before the crosscountry champs I rolled my ankle. I usually roll an ankle but I don't cause much damage to it but this time I did but it didn't last very long which is good," says Nagel who had the frustrating mishap in a pothole while out for an early morning jog up Napier Hill before the crosscountry champs in Auckland on July 30.
Preferring the role of dark horse , the 25-year-old is taking the target on her back in her stride in the 10km circuit road champs to be staged over a 1km circuit within the Canterbury Agricultural Park, off Curletts Rd, tomorrow.
"I'm really enjoying the Bay scenery and all that but it's kind of good to have that target because it makes me want to prove everyone right in staying up there and do all that."
Nagel is hoping the likes of former Napier-based ultra-marathon runner and 2017 crosscountry champion Ruby Muir, now studying in Wellington, last year's fourth-placed road runner Esther Keown, and Olivia Burne, of Palmerston North but based in Auckland, will become the catalysts to set a more cracking pace.
Nagel says Burne, who she came across in the Taupo Half-marathon, appears to be under the radar a little but is actually a solid campaigner.
"I would have liked to have done a couple more races but it just didn't work out."
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April for the 10km track race is on the card so tomorrow will become an ideal yardstick on working towards a desirable time.
"Every race and training we do is kind of a build-up towards that."
Laura Langley, another Napier Harriers Club member, is the leading female contender for the senior road walking titles from 9am in tandem with men over 10km.
Langley, who receives her coaching from Graeme Jones, won the women's 10km crown with a personal best of 50:26 in Masterton last year.
The 19-year-old Eastern Institute of Technology diploma massage therapy student is gunning for the under-20 record time of 49:29 that Courtney Ruske, of Christchurch, before Langley comes of age on September 11.
"Once I turned 20 I can't break the record so it'll be my last chance," she says, agreeing it'll be a nice early birthday present.
Another Cantabrian, Rosie Robinson, who was runner-up last year but returning from injury, will be her biggest threat.
"Rosie's in real good shape this year," she says, expecting the more than two-minute gulf between them to be whittled down.
Last year Langley clocked 49:22 over 10km for a track record, as opposed to a road one.
"I'm hoping to do something similar to that time," she says.
Langley also has ambitions to represent her country at the Commonwealth Games but if she doesn't post 48:30 tomorrow or quicker she'll book a flight to Melbourne, Australia, to do a 20km walk race for a games qualifying time in December.
"It's a long shot but, yes, if I can do it I'll be going to Australia to qualify for the Commonwealth Games."
The B standard qualifying time for the 20km race in the games is 1:36.