AFTER running in the stifling heat of the Bahamas and then frigid temperatures in Tasmania, you could understand why Montanna McAvoy was looking forward to the Bridge to Brisbane event.
The Ipswich Girls' Grammar School boarder finished fifth in Nassau representing Australia at her maiden Youth Commonwealth Games appearance, before returning to compete at the Australian cross country championships in the 'Apple Isle'.
Brisbane by comparison, provided a picture-perfect day for McAvoy as she made it back-to-back wins in the 5km event.
The 17 year-old finished first among females with a personal best time of 17 minutes, five seconds. In a field of nearly 7,000 she crossed the line 20th overall.
It marked a 54-second improvement from McAvoy's winning time in 2016, and proved she is trending upward in her push for a future Commonwealth Games berth.
Although the competition and environment differed markedly from her time in the Bahamas, for the most part McAvoy's preparation remained the same.
"Definitely the Bahamas was really different, and then coming back and racing in Tasmania it was like going from extreme hot to cold," she said.
"But I tried not to think about it too much, I just kept the same focus and race plan.
"Because you're surrounded by so many people, it's important to just run your own race and not get pulled out by the faster guys.
"I love that race, it's probably one of my favourites."
As she eyes a place at the Under 20 World Championships in March, McAvoy was pleased more with her time than winning the B2B.
With the qualifying cut-off set at 16 minutes, 40 seconds on the track, the North Queensland product looks likely to achieve that mark if she continues to improve.
"I wanted to beat my time last year definitely, so that's what I was going for," McAvoy said.
"I knew based on my (split) times that I was running I was capable of that. It was good to take a lot off (the previous PB)."
McAvoy is not ruling out a place at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games if she can improve her 3km steeplechase time, but concedes the 2022 Games in Durban is a more realistic goal.
"It's definitely something to think about, but my main goal at the moment would be worlds," McAvoy said.
"It would mean a lot (to compete at a home Commonwealth Games), it would be the best experience to have family and friends there to see you.
"I'll be aiming to get a B-qualifier (nine minutes, 58 seconds) because the A-qualifier (nine minutes, 42 seconds) is pretty quick, but if you really want to have a chance at running you probably need an A."
Following her first taste of international competition in the Bahamas, it only confirmed McAvoy's hunger to improve and compete against the best in the world.
"Just based on the experience in the Bahamas, it was just awesome to be a part of," she said.
"After running (in the Youth Commonwealth Games) it would be awesome to get to do it in the real one. It's definitely something I want to do again."
McAvoy has had to scale back the breadth of her events, as she begins to specialise in the ones most likely to grant her international success.
All the while juggling an ever-increasing workload at school.
"At the moment the main ones are the 3km and 2km steeplechase," McAvoy said.
"I did quite a bit of 1500m, but because my training is different I don't run it as often anymore.
"(The schoolwork) hasn't been too bad, I'm managing it.
"The biggest thing is just trying to find time to do it all."
McAvoy's Bridge to Brisbane stats
5km - 17m5s (1st female of 4,230; 20th overall of 6,828)