Nolene Conrad, who set a personal best of 2:34:39 to win the national title at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in September, will line up in the elite women’s field at the Osaka Marathon in Japan on Sunday morning.
With Conrad having established herself as one of the country’s best prospects over the classic 42.2km distance, we share five things you may not know about the 33-year-old athlete.
A chronic asthmatic, Conrad turned to distance running for health reasons at the age of 16. Taking a doctor’s advice, she started participating in the sport after she landed up in hospital following an asthma attack.
After clocking an impressive 21km personal best of 1:11:44 to finish 25th at last year’s World Half-Marathon Championships in Valencia, Conrad became the only South African woman to hold IAAF Gold Label status, joining male compatriots Stephen Mokoka, Lusapho April and Desmond Mokgobu among the global elite.
Though she has made a name for herself on the road in recent years, Conrad was equally capable on the track. A former specialist in the 3 000m steeplechase, she clocked 9:54.42 in Oordegem in May 2012, narrowly missing the SA record of 9:54.19 held by Tebogo Masehla.
Born in Bishop Lavis township in Cape Town, Conrad moved to Gauteng after she left school, in order to study at the University of Johannesburg. She went on to take up a post as a teacher at Vorentoe High School.
While she no longer teaches as a profession, Conrad remains committed to the development of young athletes. Now based in Stellenbosch, she works as the athletes’ manager at the Endurocad distance running academy.