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T&T’s middle and long distance runner Tonya Nero will attempt to bring an end the trend of international runners dominating local events such as the UWI Spec International Half Marathon which will be held on Sunday from 5.30 am.

Nero returned home from Guadeloupe on Monday afternoon where she competed at the Guadeloupe 10k and placed second in a time 36 minutes and 51 seconds, which was a marked improvement from last year where she placed third in 38:44. She is now sending a warning to all visiting female runners to watch out, she will be looking to secure the top spot and cash prize available.

Last year Kenya’s Caroline Kiptoo claimed victory ahead of Brazil’s Cruz Nonata Da Silva and third Lineita Madeus Rojas of Colombia. These four runners are expected to be back along with T&T’s best finisher at sixth, Samantha Shukla.

But on her return to local shores on Monday, Nero said she has intensified her training for the UWI Half Marathon which will also be used as preparation for a marathon in Dubai on January 22.

“These days I run 65-70 miles every week in preparation for the race. Among these miles will be some hill runs which I do to build strength in my home village of Maracas, St Joseph, otherwise I will train at either the Maracas St Joseph Recreation Ground or at the Aranjuez Savannah,” Nero said.

The slender built 26 year old T&T runner has already devised her plan for Sunday, saying she will go out hard at the start and will maintain her position with the leading runners, before she goes for a dash to the end.

“My race will not be dictated by any other runner, whether it’s local or foreign. I will be running my own race on Sunday,” she said.

Nero did not compete in the half marathon last year, instead choosing to participate at the Guyana 10k which she won convincingly. But come Sunday she will embrace a challenge by local organisers of road race events to win a race that will feature a number of top foreign runners. Organisers these days have been offering incentives for local runners to win events that also comprise international participants, because of complaints by locals that the international runners receive all the prizes in their homeland.

Nero is confident she can bring home the win, not for herself only but also T&T.

“This year I am a stronger runner. I started training for this event and the Dubai marathon about three weeks ago. I have done a lot of strength and speed work under my trainer Paul Voisin and I will be aiming to better my time in the race,” Nero said.

She told the Guardian also that she sympathizes with local runners who may not get the type of preparation to compete with international runners who run for a living.

“Fortunately for me, I have been exposed to running with some of these runners and I know what it takes to win the race so I am going to give it my best shot,” Nero said.

Meanwhile the men’s event is also shaping up to be a showdown in the 13.1 mile event from the St Augustine Campus to the La Resource junction in D’Abadie and back, with champion Chavez Da Silva bidding to secure the win for yet another time. The Brazilian has said he wants to win the race for 10 years straight.

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