You know you have arrived in top-flight international athletics, when an international marathon, which is part of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race Series, invites you to be part of the line-up.
A top 10 finish at an IAAF Gold Label Road Race is automatic entry in the London 2012 Olympic Games Marathon, this is of course, providing the Olympic Federation of the athlete’s country accepts that entry.
The good news is that our Rene Kalmer has been invited to race in the 2011 Volkswagen Prague Marathon on Sunday 8 May.
ÔÇ£I’m very excited. This will really be my first marathon. I did run the Soweto Marathon in 2009, but only as a training run. So whilst I know the statisticians will see that as my debut, for me the real debut is Sunday.ÔÇØ
When quizzed about her expectations, Kalmer said she was hoping for a top five. ÔÇ£This is the first marathon I have trained for and I am in good shape. So I am hoping for a top five.ÔÇØ
Kalmer is under no illusions about her competition though. ÔÇ£There is Lydia Cheromei of Kenya, a World Champion at age 13 and still running at 34. She is the new record holder of the Hervis Prague Half Marathon this year and is hoping to break the record in the Volkswagen Marathon as well, given good weather conditions on race day.
“Then there is Olga Glok (Rus), who was the winner of the Prague Marathon in 2009 when she ran her PB of 2:28:27, and Yeshimebet Tadesse of Ethiopia who ran┬á2:27:45 at the Standard Chartered Marathon in Dubai last year. So it will be tough, but it is exactly what I need.ÔÇØ
Kalmer has won 30 national titles on the road, over cross-country and on the track since 1996 and has started to eye the marathon as her next big challenge. Her preparations have certainly been meticulous.
After winning the national 5000m title in Durban on 8 April at the Yellow Pages SA Senior Track and Field Championships in her second best ever time, Rene flew to Cape Town the same afternoon to race in the Spar 10km ladies race the following day.
Not only did she win the race, she did it with her third best ever time over 10km. Leading up to the national championships and the 10km race, Kalmer clocked 53.48 for 15km in Alberton on 13 March and was South Africa’s best finisher at the World Cross Country Championships on 20 March (she finished 31st).
There was a late scare for Kalmer’s preparations when she had an uncomfortable Two Oceans half-marathon late last month, suffering from a bout of ITB knee problems but there’s been no mention of that since.
Kalmer shot to ÔÇ£fameÔÇØ in 1997 when she won six official SA Titles and one unofficial title. Still a Junior she won the Under-17 SA 1500m title, Under-17 SA 4km Cross Country Title and the Junior 10km Title.
What really caught the eye though, was that she repeated those feats at Senior level, beating the likes of Gwen Griffiths (now Van Lingen) in the 1500m, taking the SA Senior Cross Country title (6km) and the SA Senior 10km road title.
Those are the official SA Titles for 1997. The unofficial title was that of SA 5km champion. The hugely successful Old Mutual Victory races were dubbed the unofficial SA 5km championships, and Kalmer also bagged that.