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Nero finishes 89th

Sunday, March 25, 2018
Tonya Nero on route to cross the finish-line in a time of 1:16.32, at the 2017 UWI SPEC International Half Marathon at UWI SPEC, St. Augustine. Photo by:Kerlon Orr

Tonya Nero yesterday placed 89th in the IAAF/Trinidad Alfonso World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain.

She ran a season best time of one hour, 17 minutes and 55 seconds in the 23rd edition of the event, which saw some 122 runners participate, five did not finish the route.

"What an race to remember!" said Nero after the race in a facebook post. "My plan went from 'let's do this girl' to 'just fight the wind'. But I am grateful for every experience."

Nero was little off her personal best time of 1:15.13, a national record which she established at the 2012 edition in Bulgaria.

"The race conditions were tough. It was just a really windy day," said Nero yesterday. "Although I was looking forward to a better time, I am satisfied because I know that I did my best."

It was always going to be tough for Nero, who spent much of time training for the event in Wichita, Kansas, USA with coach Kirk Hunter.

"It was a little tough trying to recover from the Dubai Marathon and prepare for a half marathon. But I did the best I could while in Wichita," said Nero before the race.

Nero achieved the qualifying standard for the Commonwealth Games in Australia on January 26 at the Dubai Marathon in a time of 2:47.13.

At each of the last two World Half Marathon Championships, the Kenyan women dominated the event sweeping the medals but this time around, it was 27-year-old Netsanet Gudeta Kebede.

And the Ethiopian did it in style dropping world record holder, Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya around 14km, going on to set a world record herself, clocking 66:11 to run the fastest time ever in a women’s-only race. Jepkosgei has the overall world record though at 64:51.

Gudeta won with ease as she had dropped the field by 15km before splitting 15:23 from 15k to 20k to build up a huge lead. Her eventual margin of victory was 43 seconds over runner-up Jepkosgei. Pauline Kamulu of Kenya bagged bronze in 66:56, two seconds behind Jepkosgei.

It was a great victory for Gudeta as she had been denied medals by the Kenyans in the past, specifically in each of the past two editions. She finished as the top non-Kenyan, fourth in 2016 and sixth in 2014 but could not reach the podium.

Nero was aiming to break the 1:16 minutes barrier as a performance indicator as she prepares to compete in the marathon (26.2 miles) at the Gold Coast Games on April 15.

She will be the first woman to represent T&T in a global marathon and gained much from her half-marathon experience saying: "I learned that keeping a positive attitude can help through challenging times. Don't give up!"

Nero, who will be heading back to Wichita for a day, then on to Australia on Tuesday for the Commonwealth Games, thanked all who have played a part in her journey.

"It's never over as long as I'm alive," said Nero.


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