Confident Conrad captures first SA road title | SASCOC - SASCOC

Confident Conrad captures first SA road title

By Mark Etheridge

Hard in training for her debut marathon, Nolene Conrad cashed in with her first South African road title in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

And making it even more a bumper day in Bloem was the fact that she recorded a personal best time as she romped to victory in the national 10-kilometre championships.

In a fine performance she ran 33min 37sec at the high altitude venue to significantly improve on her previous personal best of 34:04 logged in Cape Town last year in March.

Pictured right, Conrad, a former national steeplechase and cross-country champion, started training for her debut marathon just last month after she came from some time out of her training regime and holidayed in Thailand.

“After I started doing more mileage, I started feeling fitter and decided to use all the races before my marathon as part of the preparation.

“I expected to run a personal best because my training has been going but I was a little bit worried because I was ill in the week and not sure whether I’d recover properly.’

Before the race Conrad decided on an all-or-nothing policy and went all out for the win. “If I was going to win and run a good time I’d have to break away early.”

That’s exactly what happened as she didn’t start too fast but caught early leader and defending champion Lebo Phalula at 2km and then raced solo from the 3km mark to the tape.

“I was a bit surprised and ecstatic to see my time at the end because although I knew it was going to be a good time I didn’t expect dip so far under 34min at altitude.”

It was the former Capetonian’s first road title and slots in nicely next to her 3000m SC track titles in 2006 and 2013 and the national cross-country title two years ago.

Runner-up was Christine Kalmer, young sister of two-time Olympian Rene Kalmer in 34:20 while Phalula took third in 34:54.

Next up for the tiny Gautenger will be African cross-country championships in Uganda where she’s targeting a top 15 placing and then it’s her debut marathon in Germany, where she races the Hannover Marathon in April. This is the same race that fellow South African Lusapho April has won on two occasions.

After the race Conrad also paid tribute to the role the Endurocad Academy has had in her progress. “They’ve really been a huge help,” she said. Former Olympian and world half-marathon record-holder Elana Meyer runs the show at Endurocad.

“Elana has been my mentor lately which has been a huge help and then Ernesto Gruhn has also had invaluable input in to my coach Hans Saestad’s marathon programme, because he has more experience in marathon programmes.”

The men’s title went to the versatile Stephen Mokoka in 29:11 to reclaim the title he last took four years ago. Gladwin Mzazi was second in 29:28 and Kgosi Tsosane third in 29:48.