NZSS Championship Athletics, Timaru
Okay, you all know who you are when it comes to passing judgment on what race walkers look like when you see them strutting their stuff down the road.
Yep, they can look dorkish as Billy Crystal did in spandex in the film, When Harry Met Sally, but guess who's having the last laugh now?
Laura Langley, of course, after the teenager returned with a gold medal from the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Athletics Championship in Timaru last weekend.
The 18-year-old was anything but pedestrian. In fact, she was "smashing" because she broke the record for the 2000m walk race with a time of 8m 55.87s at the Aorangi Park track on Sunday, slashing the old mark of 8:57.07.
"I sort of had my eye on it and knew about the record but I didn't think I would so it it was nice to do it," said the Taradale High School pupil who is likely to be acknowledged at the annual prizegiving ceremony today.
What is remarkable is that Langley only took up race walking early this year and before Sunday her personal best was 9m 11s.
"I was a runner and never considered race walking until my coach, Graeme Jones, asked me to," says the member of the Napier Harrier Club where Jones also race walks and coaches.
For someone who had been competed in running events, anywhere from 5km to 10km distances, from the age of 13 she had suddenly found herself in a plateau and questioning her motives and sense of fulfilment.
"I wasn't enjoying running. My walking was improving very quickly and I started to enjoy it more so it's my main sport now," said the year 13 pupil who will take a gap year to work at a Hawke's Bay orchard before deciding what career path she intends taking in pursuing tertiary qualifications at a university.
No doubt the impressionable teenager initially found it trying to venture out of her comfort zone to embrace a discipline of athletics that can put one in a silly-looking posture.
"It did [feel] a little bit [funny]," says Langley but the incremental returns from the time spent honing her skills with Jones perished any negative thoughts she had about straying from the norm.
The Harrier, who could only manage mid-field placings as a runner, won the 3000m race at the club nationals in March.
"I started thinking maybe my body wasn't meant to be a runner. My body was coping better with walking," says Langley who still trains six times a week with the same frequency and intensity as running.
Jones, who coached New Zealand Olympian Quentin Rew when he was a budding walker in the Bay, says: "Laura's a massive talent and has huge potential."
Enough said on the articulate athlete who harbours desires to take accomplishments in the code to dizzying heights, albeit mindful she also needs to keep her feet on the ground, as it were.
"I'd like to represent New Zealand and compete at world-class events," she says, suspecting her parents, Diane and Craig Langley, are proud of her achievements.
She doesn't hail from an athletic background but running coach Mick Cull, of Napier, spotted the "natural runner" as a year 9 pupil and the rest is history.
"I love the Harriers club because I can walk and run there," she declares.
Oh, and her brother, Alex, 15, was 12th in the 800m race in Timaru after starting three months ago.