Top Trinidad and Tobago long distance runner, Tonya Nero battled through illness to win her third consecutive T&T International Half Marathon title, yesterday, in a time of one hour, 20 minutes and 25 seconds--almost 15 minutes ahead of her nearest rival, Celine Lestrade, who completed the course in 1:35:04.
After completing her hat-trick of wins, Nero told the media she was not feeling well the night before and the morning of the race but still wanted to compete to get a good time, with the intention of running in this year’s World Half Marathon Championships.
The T&T runner also skipped Saturday’s 5K event to focus on the half marathon, and in the end she was pleased with the result.
“It was a really nice race. It was cooler than usual with a little bit of rain and I pushed myself really hard to try and get a good time.”
Speaking about her decision to skip the 5K, Nero said: “I want to make it to the World Half Marathon Championships in March so I did not want to tire out myself because I wanted to get a fast time in this race.
“I was not feeling too well when I crossed the finish line. I really pushed myself to set a steady pace from the beginning to the end,” she added.
Nero also noted that her main goal for 2014 is to run two hours and 40 minutes in a full marathon.
In the men’s half marathon, the Guyanese pair of Kelvin Johnson (1:15:17) and Lionel Dandrade (1:17:23) finished first and second, respectively, while T&T’s Elvis Turner was third in 1:17:58.
The T&T International Marathon was dominated by foreign runners, with Kenya’s Hilary Kimaiyo taking the top spot among the men. He crossed the finish line, near Whitehall, at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain, in 2:23:39, ahead of fellow Kenyan Mark Chepses (2:24:09) and 2013 winner Juan Carlos Cardona (2:26:51) of Colombia who were second and third, respectively.
Cantius Thomas was the first T&T male to cross the line. He was sixth in 2:55:54.
Kenya’s Leah Kigen comfortably defended her women’s marathon title in a time of 3:01:13, which was more than 20 minutes faster than second-placed Karren Downey of Canada, who crossed the line in 3:23:11.
Jamaican Arieta Martin was the third woman to finish the race, in a time of 3:31:19.
Wendy Shallow was the first female T&T runner to complete the course. She was fourth, stopping the clock at 3:50:08.
In the battle for the men’s marathon title, Kimaiyo, Chepses, Cardona and Kenyan-born USA runner Philip Lagat pulled away from the pack shortly after leaving the start at St Mary’s Junction in Freeport.
The quartet stayed close together as they headed to Montrose, through Chaguanas, with a slight shower keeping them cool as they ran along the Southern Main Road.
The three Kenyans pulled away from Cardona as they passed Chin Chin Junction in Cunupia. And by the time they reached Curepe, Cardona seemed destined for a fourth-place finish. But the Colombian fought hard on entering Port of Spain, coming back to clinch third spot, ahead of Lagat.