News & Updates

11 September 2023 • Road

Drought and Balchin enjoy national road champs success

Sarah Drought and Daniel Balchin were both victorious in the senior women’s and senior men’s 10km races at the New Zealand Road Championships.

Daniel Balchin the sole South Island competitor, outshone the North Island runners with a gutsy run to clinch the New Zealand 10km road title raced around the Massey University Campus in Palmerston North.

From the early stages of the five 2km lap race the battle for line honours was down to Balchin and Ronan Lee. They matched strides well clear of the rest through to the end of lap three. Balchin used the uphill to full advantage to break clear and hold a winning edge over the final 2km. With thumbs raised he crossed the finish in 30:27, 13 seconds clear of Lee with Nathan Tse taking a well-earned bronze in 30:53.

It was the third New Zealand road title for Balchin having also won in 2016 and 2017.

“It was a great two way battle with Ronan and I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go,” said Balchin. “It wasn’t until the last lap where I got a gap. It was a good battle and Ronan made me work for it. I’m always stoked in getting a national title, I last got the 10km road title six years ago so it’s a long time between drinks.”

Lee was pleased to receive his first national medal. “On the hills on the last three laps I was able to make a move on Dan and I’d drop him up there. But then on the flat bit I tried to recover but he wouldn’t let me and coming into the last lap he broke me and I couldn’t stick with him and I held on for second.”

Tse said that he was hurting from the start and that he focused on Lee in an effort to hold third ahead of Andre Le Pine-Day. “I had the best seat in the house, watching the Dan and Ronan show play. Full credit to the first two they put on a good race.”

The same scenario played out in the senior women’s 10km with Sarah Drought and Katrina Andrew holding fort out front in a two-way dual. Andrew held an edge over the first three laps but going into the final 2km circuit Drought was able to consolidate a seven second advantage out to a 15 second winning margin.

Drought recorded 35:23, with Andrew second and Sophie Hicks third in 36:14.

Drought, who had last won the New Zealand road some 11 years earlier, said: “I changed my tactics from the (New Zealand) cross country championships, and I came into this, being patient and thankfully Katrina did put on a decent pace, which made being patient much easier. I knew at some point I had to try and go for it and in my mind I thought around 4k on the flat seemed sensible, but the last 2km definitely feels like a long way.”

Andrew said that she was pleased with her run taking into consideration the course which was surprisingly hard with a sharp uphill. “Sarah definitely has the fitness and speed on me, but my plan was not to let third place get too close to us. I decided to put in a good tester and fight off Sarah if I could but unfortunately I couldn’t,” said Andrew.

Nick Moore held off a determined Dwight Grieve to head in the masters men, while Mel Brandon won the masters women 5km in 18:43, five seconds ahead of Sally Gibbs.

Pai Wynyard was a surprise winner of the men’s U20 8km with the U20 women’s title going to triathlete Sophie Spencer.

Jodi Nash in taking the women’s u18 title won the combined 5km with the U20 in 18:04.

Elliott Pugh was all class in the men’s under 18 6km in 18:30, finishing 20 seconds in front of team mate George Wyllie.

Imogen Barlow won the girls U16 4km in 13:50, while recent arrival in Wellington from Canada Alexander MacBeth won the boys U16 4km in 12:43.

Four race walkers achieved performance standards for the 2024 World Race Walking Team Championships in Antalya, Turkey next April. Laura Langley was outstanding winning the senior women’s 20km race walk in a PB 1:42:45. In the men’s U20 10km all three bettered the standard, Jonah Cropp recording a PB 47:23, Lucas Martin 48:59 and Toby O’Rorke 52:38.

For full running results go here

For race walking results go here

By Murray McKinnon