Siblings say that the youngest has it the easiest. The youngest gets spoiled. The youngest gets away with stuff the other siblings were never allowed to do. Yeah yeah! This is the part they don’t realise about being the youngest. By the time the youngest comes along, everything has been done. It’s probably why allegedly, the youngest is often the most rebellious. It’s pretty hard to come up with an identity of your own when your older brothers and sisters have already been there and done that!
How much more difficult then, is it to be the younger sibling when the older or oldest is a total legend? I’m….look, I’m a veteran category runner. That’s reasonably old. I am a relatively competent mother of two grown-up men. I am a grandmother. I own my own home and I have a car that is paid for. I have two dogs and a cat. And I’m Gavin’s sister. I’m not kidding you. At least once a month, someone calls me that. In fact, a while ago, a girl I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH all her and my life said “Hi, you’re Gavin’s sister, right!” Really? I went to school with you (and I wasn’t a fucking a wallflower at school) and you only know me in the context of Gavin? I’ll admit, Gavin is a total legend. What’s worse, he’s not my only older sibling. I have another even older brother who is also a total legend. Luckily, he’s so old that I very seldom meet people who know him (I don’t hang out in retirement villages) and so I don’t have the added displeasure of being referred to as Graham’s sister. When people, who know how I feel about this, introduce me to others, they do it like this.
This is SlowCoach
Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
Waaaaait for it.
She’s Gavin’s sister.
Sigh of relief from speaker.
Look of recognition from stranger.
Sigh of irritation from SlowCoach
SlowCoach walks away annoyed.
So I was telling you that Gavin is a total legend. It was his birthday yesterday. He really is a legend. He’s just one of those people that makes the room a better place to be when he walks in. He’s kind. He’s funny. He’s loud and gregarious. He will sell you your own jersey if you give him half a chance! He is good at every sport he tries. Like every sport he tries. Luckily, he hasn’t tried running. That’s probably part of the reason that I had to run the Comrades marathon. If I was going to do a sport, it had to be pretty fucking huge to be even marginally noticeable compared to Gavin’s sporting abilities. When I lamented this to someone a while back, the person very kindly said, why don’t you excel at something dumb, like darts? Gavin has provincial colours for darts! I’m not even joking here. In addition to all that, just in case you were starting to think Gavin is a male Mother Teresa, he has also been known to drink six beers in a minute. Sorry, did I hear you say, “WHAT A LEGEND!”? You gotta know what he’s like when I’m NOT the gregarious one in the family. I’m cleverer than him, but that doesn’t rate very high on the coolness scale….alas. Don’t tell him I said that. He’s a Leo. He thinks he’s the clever one.
Anyway. So I’m Gavin’s sister. The younger sibling of a legend. You can call me SlowCoach.
And wouldn’t you know that I’m not the only younger sibling of a legend. I’m also not the only one that suffers from this affliction.
I marshalled at Wits 21km on the weekend. Afterwards, I felt obliged (introvert as I am) to go to the helpers braai. Ntutu was kind enough to hold my introvert hand throughout the ordeal of meeting 190 strangers. He doesn’t know my legendary brother. So he introduces me to this lovely looking couple who looked like they stepped of the cover of Hello! magazine. “This is SlowCoach. This is Chris.” No pregnant silence. No awkward pause. No waaaaiting for it. “He’s Caroline’s brother!” Imagine my surprise. I have met Caroline Wöstmann. She is legendary. She won this year’s Two Oceans and Comrades Marathons. That’s legendary if ever there was. I have met her. I met her in the Engen on the way home from Comrades. I totally humiliated myself and acted like a stalker. But I’ve never meeeeeet her. I’ve never actually had a conversation with her. If she ever saw me, she might vaguely remember my face as a stalkerish person to be avoided at all costs. But I don’t know her to be able to say, Hi Caroline. Ntutu has. He runs and works with her. But he introduced me to Chris like Caroline and I were old buddies and now I was just meeting her younger, slightly less legendary sibling, Chris. Oh! YOU’RE Caroline’s brother. I’ve heard so much about you. She speaks about you fondly. Yeah! Exactly! I scolded Ntutu and told Chris. Look, I’ve met you first so technically, when I meet Caroline, I’ll refer to her as Chris’ sister.
Last night I got angry about this situation happening again. Only because the sibling that was introduced is totally legendary too.
First, I want you to look at the personal bests of this lady.
1000m 2:55.7h Cape Town (RSA) 17.12.2011
1500m 4:20.65 Bellville (RSA) 06.04.2001
Mile ind. 4:42.95 Fayetteville (USA) 09.02.2007
3000m 9:21.40 Bellville (RSA) 06.04.2001
3000m ind. 9:10.62 New York (USA) 03.02.2007
5000m 16:11.77 Palo Alto (USA) 02.05.2009
5000m ind. 16:35.05 Fayetteville (USA) 06.03.2009
10,000m 36:00.62 Gainesville (USA) 15.05.2009
3000mSC 10:25.33 Durban (RSA) 10.04.2011
5 km Road 16:38 Albany (USA) 31.05.2014
10 km Road 33:53 Paarl (RSA) 14.08.2010
12 km Road 41:36 Cape Town (RSA) 17.05.2015
15 km Road 54:45 Soweto (RSA) 02.11.2003
Half Marathon 1:15:23 Cape Town (RSA) 26.08.2012
Marathon 2:39:16 Wien (AUT) 12.04.201
Legendary, right? Yes. She is legendary. She is currently one of the dominant runners at the Spar Grand Prix series. She is on a podium every single weekend. Unfortunately for our lovely Christine Kalmer, she is the younger sister of Rene Kalmer. I made that sound worse than it is. I know Christine and Rene will forgive me. Last night I was very fortunate to be part of something called #runwithrene. Rene Kalmer is very kindly going around the country, sharing her experience and knowledge with aspirant runners. Last night, it was the Running Junkies’ turn and we showed up en mass. Because our track is quite close to where Rene and Christine live, Christine also joined us. Paula introduced them to us as follows: This is Rene from Modern Athlete. She is here to share with us blah blah blah. Christine is also here. She is Rene’s sister. She will also be running with us. I was furious. (Only because of my own baggage, really.) Those time above are Christine’s PBs. That is not the profile of say a Gavin’s sister. That is the running profile of a running legend. In her own right. And she’s only 29, so she’s probably got a whole lot of even better PBs ahead of her. Look at her marathon PB. She’s still getting into optimal marathon age category. Watch this space! Christine is not just a “Rene’s sister”!
So what about Christine’s sister, Rene?
Well, for starters, Rene Kalmer has the fastest marathon for a South African woman.2:29:27. (7 minutes faster than the next fastest by a South African woman, but just 10 minutes faster than her younger and up and coming sister) Rene won her debut marathon at Soweto Marathon in 2009! She has competed in the Olympic Marathon where she came 35th . She has dominated the Spar Ladies 10km series for years. She still owns the 1500m, 3000m (until February this year) and 5000m track record for women in South Africa. Here’s a list fromwww.All-athletics.com of Rene’s personal bests.
Event Result Venue Date
800m 2:03.51 Nijmegen (NED) 23.05.2000
1000m 2:46.78 Rustenburg (RSA) 22.01.2001
1500m 4:06.71 Madrid (ESP) 05.07.2008
1500m ind. 4:16.96 Gent (BEL) 14.02.2010
3000m 8:44.17 Montreuil-sous-Bois (FRA) 08.06.2010
3000m ind. 9:01.41 Doha (QAT) 12.03.2010
5000m 15:35.00 Durban (RSA) 17.03.2007
5000m ind. 15:45.40 Stockholm (SWE) 10.02.2010
5 km Road 16:12 Albany (USA) 31.05.2014
10 km Road 32:27 Durban (RSA) 26.07.2009
15 km Road 51:11 Germiston (RSA) 07.04.2013
10 Miles Road 55:11 Portsmouth (GBR) 25.10.2009
Half Marathon 1:10:37 Birmingham (GBR) 11.10.2009
Half Marathon 1:10:13 South Shields (GBR) 16.09.2012
Marathon 2:29:27 Berlin (GER) 28.09.2014
I know. Uber legend, right? Imagine how proud their parents must be! Rene and Christine, you are both legends!
Christine and Chris. You are my legends. You inspire me, not only because you’re great, but because you too are the long-suffering younger sibling of uber legends. Just think fondly of me. At least you guys have darts!
Yours in the love of running and siblings.