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After not racing for a full year, American track legend Jenny Simpson is back in the limelight as a road racer.
Just a few days after it was announced that she had signed a new sponsorship deal with Puma, Simpson won the Army 10-Miler on Sunday in Washington, D.C. The four-time Olympic and world championships medalist in the 1,500-meter run won the race in 54 minutes, 15 seconds with almost a two-minute margin over runner-up Sophia King (56:08).
There’s been much speculation about Simpson, 36, becoming a marathoner in the past week. After starting her career running cross country and the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the University of Colorado, she transitioned to the 1,500 and won the 2011 world championships as a second-year pro in Daegu, South Korea. She also earned world championship silver medals in 2013 and 2017 and an Olympic bronze in 2016. Her personal best 3:57.22 is No. 4 on the all-time U.S. list.
Simpson made the finals of the 1,500 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2021, but finished a distant 10th place and didn’t run on a track after that June race. Although she’s primarily run on the track as a pro, road racing isn’t entirely new to Simpson. She’s a nine-time winner of New York City’s Fifth Avenue Mile and she placed second at last year’s Army 10-Miler in 52:16, finishing four seconds behind winner Nell Rojas.
At this year’s Army 10-Miler, Simpson got out front and ran alone, winning the race in wire-to-wire fashion. She averaged 5:26 pace, about 12 seconds slower per mile than last year. But last year’s race had a moderately deep field up front because it doubled as a U.S. championship race.
As for what’s next, Simpson hasn’t revealed too much yet.
“My intention is to turn my focus to the roads,” Simpson said. “I have some great Puma spikes that I love so the track isn’t off the table. But my emphasis will be road racing.”
Emily Sisson Breaks American Record at Chicago Marathon
Emily Sisson cemented her place in American running history at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.
Not only did the 30-year-old Flagstaff, Arizona, runner finish second behind Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich in one of the fastest races ever run, she also broke Keira D’Amato’s American record with a blistering 2:18:29 clocking.
Sisson joins Deena Kastor, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Patti Catalano Dillon and Mikki Gorman as the only women to have held both the U.S. record in marathon and half marathon at some point in their careers, but only Sisson, Kastor and Benoit Samuelson held them simultaneously.
When the race began, Sisson was content to let Chepngetich and five runners in chase pack run off the front while she started more conservatively and settled into a smart, controlled pace. As Chepngetich ran at world-record pace, Sisson calmly cruised faster than any U.S. runner ever has.
While Chepngetich’s 2:14:18 is the second fastest ever run behind Brigid Kosgei’s 2:14:04 world record, Sisson’s time ranks her No. 22 on the all-time world list.
Earlier this year, Sisson set a new American record in the half marathon (1:07:11), taking 4 seconds off the record set by Sara Hall earlier this year. On Sunday in her record-setting run, Sisson ran near-identical half-marathon splits (1:09:26, 1:09:23), which means she’s run three of the top seven half marathon efforts run by U.S. runners this year.
Sisson ran a strong marathon in her debut in London in 2019 (2:23:08) and hoped to use that effort to catapult her into position to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team. But she had an off day on the hilly course in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta in February 2020 and dropped out before the finish. She later turned her attention to the 10,000 and placed 10th in that event at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
Americans Susanna Sullivan (sixth, 2:25:14) and Sara Vaughn (seventh, 2:26:33) both ran new PR’s to finish as the second and third Americans, respectively. Sullivan, 31, is an unsponsored runner who works full-time as a teacher in Reston, Virginia. Vaughn, 36, is sponsored by Puma, but she’s also a mother of four who works full-time as a realtor in Boulder, Colorado.
Maggie Montoya (Salomon) was eighth overall and the fourth American on the day with a PR of 2:28:07 and Makena Morley (ASICS) finished 10th overall in her marathon debut in 2:30:28 as the fifth U.S. runner. Laura Thweatt (11th, 2:31:24), Jessie Cardin (12th, 2:33:34), Carrie Verdon (14th, 2:33:50) and Brittney Feivor (15th, 2:33:59) were other Americans in the top 15.
Ex-pro runner Chelsea Sodaro wins Ironman World Championship
Just 18 months after giving birth to a baby girl, Chelsea Sodaro shocked the triathlon world by winning the Ironman World Championship on Thursday in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. She finished the 140.6 mile triathlon in 8:33:46, closing it out with the first sub-3-hour marathon of her running career.
The 33-year-old athlete from Reno, Nevada, became the first U.S. athlete to win a Kona Ironman world title since Tim DeBoom took the men’s race in 2002, and the first U.S. woman since Paula Newby-Fraser won in 1996. She’s also the second mom to win the race, following in the footsteps of Natascha Badman.
It was just Sodaro’s second race over the full Ironman distance, having finished fourth (8:36:42) in her debut at Ironman Hamburg in Germany in July. In that race, she ran a 3:00:21 marathon split to end the race.
Sodaro began running in high school and was eventually recruited to run at the collegiate level for University of California-Berkeley, where one of her coaches was 2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner Magda Boulet. Sodaro was the captain of the Golden Bears cross country team an All-American in cross country and track as a senior. Then as a professional runner, she won the U.S. 10km road championships in 2012 and a 3,000-meter national title in indoor track the following year.
But when her running career didn’t take off, she turned to triathlon and showed she can still run pretty fast.
Four miles into the marathon run, Sodaro passed reigning and five-time Ironman World champion Daniella Ryf of Switzerland. Ryf had taken the lead on at the end of the bike portion. Then she passed Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay at mile 8 to take the lead for good. Sodaro built a 2:02 lead by mile 12 and 5:02 cushion by mile 19. She completed the marathon in 2:51.45, which is 6:33 pace per mile.
Sodaro had been sponsored by Hoka, but she was let out of her contract this summer because she wanted to race in ASICS MetaSpeed Sky shoes.
“My mind is a little bit blown right now,” said Sodaro, who won $125,000 for her victory. “This is the culmination of things being right in my life and having perspective. This is freakin’ incredible, but the greatest gift at the end of the finish line is my little 18-month-old.”
Erika Kemp Wins Boston 10K for Women
Erika Kemp of the Boston Athletic Association High Performance Team won the Boston 10K for Women on Saturday. The 27-year-old Adidas-sponsored pro ran a personal best of 32:14 and beat Risper Gesabwa of Mexico by 17 seconds. Puma pro Taylor Werner (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) was third in a personal best of 32:35, followed by Michigan-based Kenyan runner Mary Munanu (32:48) and Alexandra Hays (Raleigh, North Carolina) in 32:55. Also of note, Molly Huddle, 38, continued her comeback from maternity leave with a ninth-place finish in 33:32 and 17-year-old Ellie Shea ran 34:11 in her first road 10K.
Another weekend of top-tier collegiate cross country racing is on tap with Friday’s Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, the Mt. SAC Invitational in Walnut, California, plus Saturday’s, NCAA Division 1 Pre-National/Weis-Crockett Invitational in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The NCAA Cross Country Championships will be held November 19 in Stillwater.
Fall marathon season continues with the Baltimore Running Festival on October 15 and Detroit Marathon and Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 16. The final World Marathon Major race of 2022 is the New York City Marathon on November 6.