NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A distance runner from Tokyo is emerging as the sentimental favorite for Sunday’s New York City Half-Marathon.

Yuri Kano will be the only elite Japanese runner in the event. Kano will be racing the streets of Manhattan, but she said through an interpreter that her heart will be with the people back home, reports WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

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WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond spoke to Yuri Kano about the disaster Japan and the marathon.

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“I think this is definitely a time to endure and fight together against disaster, so I want to be one of them and do my best,” she said.

Race director Mary Wittenberg called Kano a tough, gutsy runner. She took a nasty fall in the 2009 New York City Marathon and still finished in ninth place.

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“At New York Runners, we don’t pick favorites – but I think we have a sentimental favorite, in Yuri, for Sunday,” she said.