Those who make it to the podium are privileged but athletics isn't always about bling and scorching times.
It's also about experiences along the way because succumbing to the fear of starting lines and guns will only deprive one of an extraordinary journey.
For Hastings Athletics Club members Ruby Brett and Jacob Murphy that has never been a hurdle in asking for their marks in the fast lanes or taking the leap of faith into sand paper-like pits at stadiums.
The 14-year-olds have accepted it can be demanding and punishing but it's also a lifestyle choice so you always get back what you put in.
If they win medals well and good, if they don't then they aren't going to lose sleep over it.
In fact, they haven't for the past seven years they have competed at the annual North Island Colgate Games, as the 39th edition starting at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings today.
"Well, going through Colgate gave me bigger ambitions because I started off just having fun with it but now that I've gotten older I need to put more effort and time into it because it's getting much harder," says Brett who will compete in the 400m, 800m and 1500m.
Not winning is something that seldom ever crops into her mind because the enjoyment of running and trying to keep up with peers who derive a similar sense of satisfaction are rewarding in themselves.
"It's just a part of me so it'd feel weird if I dropped it," says the Karamu High School pupil who, like Murphy of Napier Boys' High School, will begin year 11 classes from next month.
Her first recollection of enjoyment from running was when she was a shade over 2.
"I used to run and jump into my mum's arms at the finish line at the Hastings Athletics Club," she says, revealing her mother, Kim, encouraged her to take up athletics because the youngster's father, Karl, was a marathoner.
When she reached 10 Brett started appreciating the joys of training and running.
"I just like the fact that you are able to run and, sometimes, it feels real good even if you didn't do well."
She used to try to push herself but she wasn't ambitious enough to put in the time at training.
Only four months ago that changed after she came under the tutelage of St John's College athletics teacher/coach Chris Hansen.
"He's let me join their boys' team for training."
So why the late mind change?
"I thought it would be a good age to start now before everyone, like, gets too good and it becomes hard for me to catch up," she says.
While she's flirting with middle-distance track events Brett is finding she is gravitating towards road-race distances lately.
A Hastings Harrier over 4km, she was chuffed last month to finish 10th at the secondary schools' nationals over the same distance.
At the track nationals she hasn't been able to break out of the heats to make the playoffs.
"In the Colgate Games I make it to the finals but don't do that well there."
Brett prefers the track because it's kinder to her joints than the road but the terrain also is beneficial.
"You're not just going around in circles but then on the track it's soft and flatter."
While the tarmac beckons she doesn't believe she'll stray too far from the track to inject variety into her training.
Murphy, of Napier, started running at 3 because his mother and the club team manager for this games, Maree, was a former athlete at the Hastings centre when the late Allan and Sylvia Potts were mentors.
"I just remember running alongside my brothers," says Murphy who didn't beat Callum, now 22, Ryan, 19, and Liam, 18, but simply enjoyed the thrill of emulating his elder siblings.
Their 48-year-old mother, a former sprinter, hurdler and jumper, didn't compete at the Colgate Games because the club wasn't part of it until she turned 15 but all her sons have taken part in the national meeting for 7 to 14-year-olds.
When Brett was 8, the former Havelock North Primary School pupil started enjoying the routine it offered.
The 100m sprint and hurdles over the same distance appealed most but he has since embraced long jump, too, enjoying the take-off and landing.
Murphy, a member of the Paul Henare and Paora Winitana HB Basketball Academy, finds the overall fitness derived from athletics provides him with a solid template to play basketball.
So does Brett who is making the most of her agility in her school teams.
"In soccer, it's good being a wing who can back and forth along the sides of the field," says the KHS first XI player who only just gave up netball which she found too inhibitive aerobically.
She is grateful to her mother and stepfather Bruce Wilson for "not pushing me too hard" but simply "guiding me" with the promise of assistance if she wishes to take it to a new level.