By time measurements, Colin Martin has always been close behind his brother, Ethan.
On July 22, 1995, the starter's gun went off for Colin only one minute after his twin brother was born. Eighteen years later, Colin is still close behind Ethan.
Only this time it's on a WPIAL fast track and the difference is a matter of seconds.
Among distance runners in the district, Ethan is at the top for one event and second in another. Right over his shoulder is his fraternal twin.
The Martins, juniors at Fox Chapel High School, are a most unusual story. Have there ever been twins in WPIAL track who are so talented in events -- and so close to each other?
"There are a lot of good runners out there, so it's going to be hard," Ethan said. "But we've been talking about finishing 1-2 in the WPIAL for a long time. It would be something."
So far this season, Ethan Martin has the best 1,600-meter time in WPIAL Class AAA at 4:22.34. Colin is eighth at 4:26.15. Ethan is second in the 3,200 at 9:28.49. Colin is sixth at 9:38.13. At the WPIAL cross-country championships in October, Ethan was second in Class AAA and Colin fifth.
The WPIAL track and field championships are May 16 and there is a good possibility these two "womb mates" could be running alongside each other again. They will also go against each other Friday in the Baldwin Invitational, one of the biggest meets in the eastern part of the country.
Truth be told, Colin has never beaten Ethan in a race -- ever. But he keeps getting closer. And no matter the race, Colin always seems to be within steps of Ethan. Track is the imitation of life for the Martins. They train together, like to play frisbee together, walk the dogs together and watch movies together. They take three classes together. They talk about possibly running in college together.
"We have the same friends and we have a lot of common interests," Ethan said. "I can't think of many times when we're not together."
Especially at the finish line.
"I have never beaten him, but there have been some races where he'll take it easy on me and actually let me go across the finish line before him," Colin said. "But I won't do it. I wouldn't want to count that as a win. I want to catch Ethan on his best day. Then I would call that a victory.
"It's absolutely a rivalry. But it's friendly. There is no bitterness. But I put a target on his back every single race."
While the Martins are a lot alike, the sons of Tom and Louise are different -- from their stature, to quirks, to their past with running. Colin is 6 feet; Ethan is 5-8. Ethan doesn't mind a messy room at home; Colin prefers more cleanliness. Colin sometimes gets annoyed by Ethan's affinity for longboarding (skateboarding with a long board).
As for running, Ethan started with cross-country in seventh grade. Colin played football in seventh grade and didn't take up running until spring of that school year. Colin admits he didn't take running as seriously as Ethan until his sophomore year.
"We run together seven days a week now," Ethan said.
Besides practicing with Fox Chapel, the Martins also train three days a week under John Wilkie, a retired cross-country and track coach at North Hills. Wilkie coached numerous cross-country and track standouts at North Hills before retiring a few years ago.
"Mr. Wilkie is the one to really see the potential we had and he kind of took us under his wing," Colin said. "He's led us to our success. Finding him is a key to where we are."
But where will the Martins be when the WPIAL championships start in a few weeks?
"I guess my No. 1 goal is just try to beat Ethan," Colin said. "Or have us go 1-2 at WPIALs. Being able to share that with Ethan would be a lot of fun."