Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 166 March 2024 | Page 38



It ’ s Just the Comrades !

Some people in South Africa believe that you ’ re not a ‘ real runner ’ until you have run the Comrades Marathon , no matter how many national titles you ’ ve won , or Olympic Marathons you ’ ve run . Just ask sisters René and Christine Kalmer , who for many years have lit up the South African running scene , from track and cross country , to marathons and shorter ultras … and yet still sometimes feel that their Comrades-running husbands are the ‘ real runners ’ in the family . But that ’ s set to change this June . – BY SEAN FALCONER
René and Christine Kalmer are set to make their Comrades debut in 2024 .

On 14 February , Olympian and multiple SA Champion René Kalmer posted two pics on Facebook , of daughter Karli wearing a cute Comrades T-shirt , which said , “ Someone I know is running the Comrades .” This immediately resulted in several friends posting comments , asking René whether she is running . After all , it could ‘ just ’ have been about René ’ s husband , Andre van Wyk , entering to run his seventh , or perhaps brother-in-law Aiden Stoop signing up for his second . There was even an outside chance it was about sister and fellow Olympic marathoner Christine Kalmer planning a Comrades debut …

Included in these comments was one from the author of this article : “ Dad , Mom , Uncle , Aunt , all of the aforementioned ? Tell us , tell us , tell us !” The answer came back a short while later , “ Mom , Dad , uncle and aunt …” Now , that ’ s definitely one
38 ISSUE 166 | www . modernathlete . co . za
way to announce to the world that the famous Kalmer sisters are going to be making their Comrades debut in 2024 ! And since both have seconded their husbands through the race – a notoriously hard task due to traffic , crowds , limited parking , and a long day out in the sun – the two Olympians will find out for themselves which is actually harder , seconding at or running the Comrades !
We sat down for an interview with the Kalmer sisters a few days later , and as has always been the case with these two , the jokes and laughter were a constant in the chat . It is clear that both are feeling quite relaxed about their running in general , and their decision to tackle the Ultimate Human Race this June … although Christine did joke that she had hoped to fly under the radar a bit more , but René ’ s Facebook post put paid to those plans !
Karli and her Comrades Tee that publicly announced the Kalmer Comrades news .