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Kalmer tackles the marathon

┬áOlympian Ren├® Kalmer has a tough choice. Should she concentrate on the middle-distance track events, having made it to Beijing 2008 in the 1 500m? Or should she move up to the marathon, where she won the Nedbank Soweto Marathon on her marathon debut?

While it may seem a tough choice, Kalmer has no doubt as to where her athletics future lies. It’s the marathon for her in the long run, and her sights are firmly set on taking part in the Olympic Marathon in London in 2012. Having turned 29 late last year and having been a top runner in South Africa since her early teens, she says the time is right for her to move up to the classic 42.2km distance.

‘I think being 31 for the marathon in London is a good age, even 35 for the next one. Kelly Holmes of Great Britain showed us that it can be done when she won the Olympic 800 and 1 500m double at the age of 32. I think that motivated a lot of athletes to keep going instead of retiring because of their age.’

While the marathon is where her future lies, it was her exploits on the indoor track in Europe that made the headlines early this year. The former accounting teacher resigned from her half-day position at a public relations and communications company in Johannesburg so that she could go to Europe for the indoor season, and she celebrated her ‘pro athlete’ status by going after the SA indoor records for the 1 500m, 3 000m and 5 000m. She returned home with all three in the bag, having run 4:16.96, 9:02.92 and 15:45.40 respectively.

‘I decided to go after the records because I’m thinking of moving to the marathon full-time soon, and I wanted to experience everything before moving up, so I just wanted to try indoors.┬á

‘I don’t want to be sitting here two years from now regretting not having given it┬á
a try. Also, because the season is so long, I think you must do different things to keep yourself motivated. I really love to travel and experience new things, and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Europe, because it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced snow. Luckily my younger sister Christine has been in the snow before, so she gave me tips on how to train in it.’

Ironically, the 5 000m indoor record that Kalmer bettered belonged to her sister, but she says it didn’t cause any problems between them.

‘Christine didn’t even know she held the record; she only found out a week before when I told her I was going for it. Indoor isn’t really big in South Africa, so the records aren’t that good or well known yet. Still, I was very happy with my 3 000m time.’

Upon her return to home soil, Kalmer has gone back to the outdoor track for the Yellow Pages track and field series and won the Port Elizabeth Spar 10km women’s race for the eighth time.

The full story can be read in the latest issue of the Road To London quarterly magazine.
 
The feature was written by Sean Falconer of Modern Athlete, South Africa’s biggest athletics magazine.


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