BENDIGO'S Maria Bryce is aiming to start a new year by competing in the biggest event of her track and field career.
The mother-of-two will be among hundreds of athletes competing in the Oceania Masters Games from January 4 to 10 in Bendigo.
Bryce's build-up to the Games has gained momentum in recent weeks.
"Training is now three times a week," she said of workouts at the La Trobe University Bendigo athletics complex in Flora Hill.
"To have the Oceania Masters Games in my hometown is fantastic," Bryce said.
"This was too good an opportunity to miss."
Her events in January will include discus, javelin, 100m, 200m, 800m and 1500m in the 45-49 years class.
"Each training session there is an improvement in an event or two," she said of work with the John Knott-coached track squad and with South Bendigo clubmates Carol Coad and Annette Curtis for field events.
Bryce will head to Geelong for the Australian Masters being run from October 5 to 12. The track and field action will be at John Landy Field.
"At this stage the program for Geelong is the 100, 200, discus and javelin," Bryce said.
Bryce competed in athletics until her mid-teens and then took a lengthy break.
She was a keen spectator when daughters Kaitlyn and Madison took up cross-country and Little Athletics.
"Encouragement from the girls, and other athletes played a big part in deciding to have a go at track and field again," she said about returning to competition just over three years ago.
"It's not always about where I finish in a race or in field events that's most important.
"A lot of athletics is about fitness and fun, and that's what I really enjoy.
"Being able to achieve a personal best is always a goal."
Bryce said it was great to see such a wide range of ages at Bendigo's meets each Saturday afternoon.
Her biggest improvements in last summer's competition were in the 200m and javelin.
No matter where's she placed, Bryce is just rapt about being able to compete in a major event not so far from home.