FIVE years ago mother of two, Nurunnisa Madat, 50, proved the experts wrong when she won a Bill Rowan medal at the Comrades for finishing the world famous ultramarathon in under nine hours.
“They said it was impossible when you looked at my qualifying time (3 hours and 50 minutes ). The training was hard but it was worth every minute,” said the Parkside resident and mother of Moegtaar, 24, and Musiegh, 20, who runs too, from her job as laboratory scheduler in the planning and logistics department at Aspen.
Depending on the race she is training for, she runs between 50 – 80 kilometres a week going up to 100 kilometres in the build-up to Comrades.
Although she was active in athletics while still at school, Nurunnissa started running when her younger son turned 10, because “I needed to do something other than tending to my family and going to work”.
This year she completed her ninth Two Oceans and eighth Comrades. In between she has run numerous other local races ranging from 10km to ultras.
As a Muslim, Nurunnisha does not run in shorts and skimpy tops. She wears a long club vest, leotards and a cap.
“Contrary to expectations the Muslim community have been very supportive. In fact I received an award from the Muslim Women’s Association in recognition of my achievements.
“They see me as an inspiration and have commented that it has encouraged them to start exercising and taking care of their health,” she said.
Nurrunnisa says she owes much of her success to the support of her family, especially her husband, Aziez who seconds her on the long runs and accompanies her to all the out-of-town races.
The couple were school sweethearts and in the same class at Gelvandale High.
“It helps that he is also a runner and a sports lover,” said Nurunnisa.
Aziez, who has completed four Two Oceans but does not plan on tackling the Comrades, is currently the chairman of Malabar Athletics Club and vice-president of the EP Athletics Association.
“I hope to get my permanent numbers in both the Comrades and Two Oceans before taking it easy,” said Nurrunnisa.
Taking it easy does not mean giving up the sport she loves but “doing trail runs with hubby”.