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Hugs and friendly rivalry in Ploegsteert
Family tradition: brothers Kristof, Nico and Rino
Every year in November, Kristof Vandevoorde (40) and his brothers Nico (38) and Rino (39) shake hands and hug at the start of the half marathon in Ploegsteert, a small Belgium village. And each time, after Rino has won the competition between the brothers, family and friends come together in a Ploegsteert restaurant for dinner.
Running the Ploegsteert half marathon is a great tradition that the three brothers and their family enjoy. Kristof (photo right, blue shirt): “It is a lovely family gathering. Our parents and an uncle and aunt make the trip to cheer us on during the race. Dinner after the race is a celebration. Rino is by far the best runner of the three brothers. He usually finishes in 1.24 and he will always beat us, which is really okay.”
Kristof started running five years ago, in the period when he and his wife got divorced. “Running is great therapy! At that time I was overweight, I must have weighed about one hundred kilos. I just felt I had to do something. Nico has played football for many years and was feeling pain and injuries more often. Nico and I sometimes train together.”
When Kristof noticed he enjoyed running more and more, he decided to participate in a 20 kilometre run in Brussels. “Nico decided to join, without any training or preparation whatsoever. He loved it. Unfortunately, having a business means that Nico cannot train as much as I can. Over the years, as I started training five to six times a week, my results have become much better. In my first 20k run my finish time was 2.17, but at next races I scored 1.38 and I continue to strive to do better every time. I have lost a lot of weight in the process, I came down from 100 to 78 kilos!”
Kristof, Rino and Nico run in Brussels 20k every year, another family tradition. “Nico and I stay together during the race, we try to enjoy ourselves without the need to improve our result. No rivalry, just good fun.” And if there ís rivalry, it is never dead serious, there is always a wink. “Three years ago, when I was ready for my first marathon, I told everyone that I was to be the best marathon runner in the family. The same day, Rino filled in the application form for the same marathon. I have to admit he is a real talent; without any real preparation, he finished in 3.09! Once a year, Nico and I challenge him in Ploegsteert. But every time, Rino wins the title ‘Running King of the Family”, Kristof laughs.
Kristof has also discovered that running is a great excuse to travel the world. After he picked up ultra running, he ran the Two Oceans race in South Africa (56k) and the Trans Rockies Run (190 km in six days). There are plenty of challenges left for Kristof in ultra running. “Wherever my running takes me in the future, I will show up in Ploegsteert in November!”
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