Year-after-year Warrnambool runners Grace Kelly and Layla Watson can be spotted going through their warm-up together at training.
The Duynhoven Perry Sprinting (DPS) stable duo in their mid teens having been going through similar experiences - they're winning races at a high level.
Their friendship is important because even though they're both fierce competitors, they're quick to point out how important enjoying the sport is to them.
"Even though it's an individual sport and can get lonely being able to have people like Layla, it just makes it that bit more enjoyable," Kelly said.
Kelly, 15, and Watson, 16, are taking on the 120-metre Warrnambool and Terang women's gifts this weekend.
Kelly is the Warrnambool Gift reigning champion.
The action is at Friendly Societies' Park on Saturday and Terang Recreation Reserve on Sunday.
Kelly will also compete in the 70m open dash at both events. There was huge buzz about the youngster when she made the Stawell Gift final in April.
With success comes expectation and she's been managing that.
"(I have been working on) having not as big expectations, I seem to put a lot of pressure on myself, so I think I'm just trying to run relaxed and not feel like I've got expectations and pressure around that," she said.
"That's a big thing I've been working on.
"You know you want to do well but at the end of the day you've got to go out there and have fun and try and put all that behind you."
She said friendships and competing were the reasons she enjoyed sprinting.
"You want to continually improve, I'm a competitive person so once I see what I can do, I want to do better than that," she said.
Watson is coming off a women's 400m win at the Mount Gambier Gift last weekend.
She's just as committed as Kelly and continued to work on the "one-percenters" when on a family holiday in Darwin this year.
She's got the women's 120m and 300m events at Warrnambool and the women's 120m at Terang.
Watson, whose pet event is the 400m, would love to run at the world junior championships in the future.
She's focused on running a consistent race.
"I've probably just been learning to run controlled over the 400m, I tend to get a bit too competitive at the start and blow my race out," she said.
"So I just have to learn to stay relaxed and controlled the whole way."
Warrnambool Gift president Richard Wearmouth believes the 120m female event has attracted its strongest field since the Gift restarted in 2013.
Past Stawell winners Holly Dobbyn (2014) and Grace O'Dwyer (2015) are quality back-markers.
Hannah Duynhoven is also a Warrnambool-raised runner competing.
"It's good for Warrnambool to have those runners, I'm excited to run against those girls, I think always having a bit of competition is good," Kelly said.
"It's kind of cool to say you're running against those runners and they're all really nice girls."
Hudson Downes, 14, is another teenager in the stable aiming to have a ball this weekend.
He's in the under 18 120m and 300m on Saturday and the under 18 120m on Sunday. He made his Warrnambool Gift debut last year and learnt from that day.
"Just not to expect too much from it and just go out and enjoy it," he said.
Downes trains with DPS about four times a week and he also trains with his dad, Marcus, in Ballarat on some weekends.
"Dad's probably been the biggest inspiration," Downes said of how he got into running.
"He was national champion over the 800m and won a few gifts here and there."
The youngster has picked up a few tips from his dad over the years. "(One example) is finding the in-between of relaxed running and aggressive running," he said.
The women's Warrnambool Gift final is at 3.01pm on Saturday and the men's is on at 3.14pm.
The women's feature is on at 3.16pm and the men's is on at 3.26pm at Terang.
Aaron Benson, Aubery Watson, Patrick Meade, Callum Wade, Hannah McMeel, Leo McMeel, Jacob Taylor, Carl McMeel, Richard Wade, Anna Kasapis, Toni Wade, Chad Ryan and Jane McMeel are among the other DPS athletes competing on the weekend.
Passionate about covering all sports from Ultimate Frisbee through to the latest footy and netball updates. Started at The Examiner in January 2022. Was part of the Warrnambool Standard's sports team which won the 2019 AFL Victoria Best Print/Online coverage for a daily newspaper. Got a story? Email: email@example.com
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