For Maya Piras, next month's debut at the Athletics Australia Junior Championships has been a long time coming.
The 16-year-old is in her final year of Little Athletics, and was last year ranked as Australia's fastest female hurdler of her age.
But due to the disparate distances and hurdle heights across Little Athletics' state associations, she has never actually competed in her pet event at a national carnival.
"It will be the first time that I've versed other people that I've never versed before, and I've only seen their times - never actually seen them race," Maya said.
"Little As doesn't have a nationals type thing, but they do this ranking where they just get your times from what you did at state and the just put it against what everyone else did."
Last year Maya was ranked first, while in previous years she was second.
But she's "very excited" to finally test herself directly against Australia's best.
"It's different, because two age groups are combined and there are older girls who have been doing it for longer than I have," Maya said.
"I'm really just looking to get into the finals and then getting a good time."
She thanked coaches Mark Penman (Dubbo Athletics) and Ron Bendell (Sydney), and told other aspiring athletes "don't give up".
"It's taken me this long to get here," Maya said.
"It's my last year of Little Athletics but I can still go for this Australian juniors.
"If you don't get it the first year, or the next couple of years, you have a long time to get it so don't give up!"
It's a sentiment echoed by Ella Penman.
Ella is also bound for her first Athletics Australia Junior Championships, although she's had a very different journey.
The 12-year-old will be competing in the under 14s division over 800 and 1500 metres.
At the state titles, the decorated middle distance runner achieved two new personal bests, and a bronze medal in the 800m.
She's also excited for her first national carnival outside of school athletics, and said racing against older athletes took the pressure off.
"It doesn't really matter how I go, just try my best," she said.
"In the 1500, I won't go out too hard … Dad will give me times for each lap, because there's normally a clock at the end, and the 800, yeah he'll do the same."
She urged other kids to "train hard and one day you'll get there".