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Amid warm, humid spring conditions, Emily Sisson turned up the heat and turned in another sterling performance at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday, winning the 2022 USATF 15K Championship in commanding fashion.
In her first race since the Tokyo Olympics, Sisson ran away from a strong field early en route to winning the 9.3-mile race in 47:28. It was her second consecutive 15K title and the fifth national championship for the 30-year-old New Balance-sponsored runner from Phoenix.
Sisson hadn’t raced at all since she placed 10th in the 10,000-meter run at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, but she’s logged plenty of training for the upcoming season since last fall.
“Happy to come away with the win today at the Gate River Run,” Sisson wrote on Instagram. “Really pleased for so many reasons but mainly because this was my first race in a long time. It felt so good to be back out there!”
Sisson led an all-Emily sweep of the podium, as Emily Durgin ran strong to finish second in 49:17 and Emily Infeld took third in 49:46. Sarah Pagano (49:51) and Nell Rojas (49:58) rounded out the top five.
Sisson, who has been training recently at high altitude in Flagstaff, Ariz., went off the front of the elite women’s race right from the start. In the opening minutes of the race, Infeld and Durgin hung by her side, but by the 5K mark (15:38) Sisson opened up a 6-second lead.
From there, she was running alone against the clock. She checked her watch a few times as she clicked off her kilometers in the 3:10 range (5:05 mile pace), but she was never challenged the rest of the way.
For most of the race, it appeared as if Sisson might break Shalane Flanagan’s American course record of 47:00 set in 2014. But as she ascended the Hart Bridge at the 13K mark, she began to labor a bit and lost time. She still finished with a good kick and held on for the fourth-fastest American time on the course, behind Flanagan’s record and two fast times posted by Deena Kastor (47:15 in 2003 and 47:20 in 2007).
Sisson earned $10,000 for her victory plus an additional $5,000 for winning the race’s gender challenge. The women’s field was given a 6-minute head start and Sisson crossed the finish line one minute and 42 seconds ahead of men’s winner Nico Montanez (43:10).
The next stretch of Sisson’s 2022 season will focus on qualifying for the U.S. team that will compete in the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in July.
“It’s my first race back from Tokyo, so it’s just good to push my body that hard,” Sisson said in a post-race interview. “I haven’t done that in so long now. It felt good to get out there and hoping this is a good springboard for the rest of the year.”
Gate River Run / USATF 15K Championships Women’s Results
1. Emily Sisson, 30, Phoenix, Arizona, 47:28
2. Emily Durgin, 27, Flagstaff, Arizona, 49:17
3. Emily Infeld, 31, Portland, Oregon, 49:46
4. Sarah Pagano, 30, San Diego, California, 49:51
5. Nell Rojas, 34, Boulder, Colorado, 49:58
6. Annie Frisbie, 25, Hopkins, Minnesota, 50:14
7. Jessie Cardin, 25, Athol, Massachusetts 50:28
8. Lexie Thompson, 24, South Weber, Utah, 50:44
9. Bria Wetsch, 33, Broomfield, Colorado, 51:11
10. Tayler Tuttle, 25, Boulder, Colorado, 51:25