Emily Sisson wins the 2023 USATF 20 km Championships title

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved


NEW HAVEN (Sept. 4) — On a sunny, warm, and humid Labor Day morning here, Emily Sisson won the USATF 20 km Championships road running title at the 45th Faxon Law New Haven Road Race. Sisson, 31, who represents New Balance, led nearly every step of the women’s race and powered to the traditional finish line on Temple Street in 1:06:09, half a minute over her closest rival, Ednah Kurgat of the U.S. Army. The champion won $9,000.

Emily Sisson In Control At USATF 20 km Championships

Sisson –who starred for Providence College during her NCAA career just 100 miles northeast of here– used today’s race as part of her build-up for next month’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Read more: USATF 20 km Championships 2023 results

Looking for a hard consistent effort to test her fitness, Sisson went right to the front from the starting line on Elm Street.  The other top women –Kurgat, Aliphine Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel, Kellyn Taylor, Annie Frisbie and Emily Durgin— quickly grouped-up behind her.

“Like two miles in I knew it was going to be a grind,” Sisson told Race Results Weekly, adding that she only tapered her training mileage down a little to get ready for today’s race.  She continued: “I tapered a little the last couple of days, but not a lot.  We’ve been training pretty hard.”

Keeping a steady rhythm, Sisson sought simply to wear out her opponents today.  Slowly, all of her rivals fell back, except for Kurgat and Durgin, who were running right on Sisson’s heels in the 11th kilometer, where the race loops back to the center of the city. 

Sisson said that having those women on her tail was motivating and keeping her honest.

“Actually, it helped having such a good field out there,” Sisson said.  “It kind of held me accountable to keep keeping steady.  Ednah was there for nearly the whole thing.”

Where Did Emily Sisson Make Her Move?

Durgin (adidas) eventually fell back and had to settle for third in 1:06:59.  Kurgat held on to Sisson’s heels until the final 800 meters.  That’s where Sisson decided to make her move.

Emily Sisson leads Ednah Kurgat and Emily Durgin at the 2023 USATF 20 KM Championships
Emily Sisson leads Ednah Kurgat and Emily Durgin at the 2023 USATF 20-K title at the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

“With a couple of miles to go I was trying to figure out how good of a kick Ednah has because I don’t race her a lot,” Sisson recounted.  

“I was trying to plan when to make my move.  With about half a mile to go I was able to pick it up a bit.  She made it a really good race.”

Read more: 2023 Three Corner Rock PCT 50K Results: Allie Ostrander wins women’s race

Kurgat, the 2023 USATF cross country champion, was clearly exhausted by today’s effort.  Sitting on a curb, dripping with sweat and holding a cup of water, she told Race Results Weekly: “The last mile was really hard.”

Fourth place went to Tristin Van Ord (ZAP Endurance) who worked her way up through the field.  She was clocked in 1:07:22.  Annie Frisbie (Puma/Minnesota Distance Elite) rounded out the top-5 in 1:07:27.

Injury-Free Molly Seidel Finishes 9th

Tokyo Olympic Marathon bronze medalist Molly Seidel, who is also running the Chicago Marathon, finished ninth in 1:09:04, about 2:26 marathon pace.  She said that she felt OK and was not injured, but definitely had more work to do before Chicago.

“It was a tough day,” Seidel said after posing for a few selfies with fans.  “Definitely just frankly disappointed with how I ran.  But, you know, that’s how it goes.  Kind of building back into it. 

“Seems like workouts have been going really well, and training has been going really well.  So, just frustrated with myself today.”

Today’s victory represented Sisson’s eighth national title, but only her first at this distance.  She said that she was on track for Chicago, the race where she set the USATF marathon record last year in 2:18:29.

“To be able to grind it out for 12 miles is really good practice for the marathon,” Sisson said.  “I think I’m where I need to be.”

Fans have been waiting for this USATF 20 km Championships race all weekend, and Emily Sisson certainly delivered for them!

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