Emily Sisson Breaks American Marathon Record, Runs 2:18:29 To Finish 2nd in Chicago

By LetsRun.com
October 9, 2022

The third time’s the charm.

Running in just her third marathon, 30-year-old American Emily Sisson lived up to her long-hyped marathon potential today as she ran 2:18:29 to finish second at 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and break Keira D’Amato’s 2:19:12 American record that was set in January of this year in Houston. Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich won the race in 2:14:18, the second-fastest time in history, after running well under world record pace for much of the way.

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Sisson, accompanied by pacers Brian Harvey and Jonny Mellor, went out on American record pace, reaching halfway in 69:26 before picking it up as she ran her second half in 69:03, a time just 14 Americans have ever run for the half according to Tilastopaja.eu. Sisson saved her best for last as her final 5k split from 35k to 40k of 16:19 was her best 5k split of the race. From 40k to the finish, she went even faster as she ran it in 7:00, which is 15:56 5k pace.

Emily Sisson 2:18:29 American Marathon Record

Emily Sisson 2:18:29 American Marathon Record

Emily Sisson’s Splits
5K – 16:23 (2:18:15 pace)
10K –  32:54 (16:31, 2:18:47 pace)
15K – 49:17 (16:21, 2:18:36 pace)
20K – 1:05:49 (16:32, 2:18:52 pace)
Half – 1:09:26 (2:18:52 pace)
25K – 1:22:09 (16:20, 2:18:39 pace)
30K – 1:38:37 (16:28, 2:18:43 pace)
35K – 1:55:10 (16:33, 2:18:51 pace)
40K – 2:11:29 (16:19, 2:18:42 pace)
Finish – 2:18:29

Emily Sisson on way to American Record in Chicago

Emily Sisson on way to American Record in Chicago (Kevin Morris)

Today’s American record run was sweet vindication for Sisson. After a promising 2:23:08 marathon debut in London in 2019, Sisson dropped out of the hilly 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, a course she knew she wasn’t suited for. Now, on the flat Chicago course, she has covered 26.2 miles faster than any American woman in history.

In a cool moment, Sisson was congratulated after the race not just by D’Amato, but by previous American record holders Deena Kastor and Joan Benoit Samuelson too. When Kastor broke Samuelson’s AR in London in 2003, she received a congratulatory phone call from Samuelson, and when D’Amato broke Kastor’s AR in Houston in January, Kastor made sure to call her to continue the tradition. No phone calls were necessary today as all three previous AR holders were there in person to celebrate Sisson’s accomplishment.

Quick Take: What a run / That didn’t take long

Sisson was absolutely brilliant today. Normally runners are struggling at the end of a marathon, but Sisson was flying from 40k to the finish. Well done.

After Deena Kastor became the first American to break 2:20 in the marathon when she ran 2:19:36 to win London in April 2006, it took 5,757 days — that’s 15 years, 8 months and 24 days – for it to happen again when D’Amato ran 2:19:12 in Houston in January.

While Kastor held the AR for 15+ years, D’Amato didn’t even hold the AR for a year. 266 days later — or 8 months and 23 days — the record now belongs to Sisson.

We’ve been hyping Sisson’s AR potential on these pages since 2015 when her college coach at Providence, Ray Treacy, told us that she was made for the marathon. At the time, we wrote, “So there you have it. When [Des] Linden and [Shalane] Flanagan and [Kara] Goucher are too old to contend at a major, America can put its hopes on Sisson.”

Sisson is certainly capable of contending at a major. At 2:18:29, Sisson is now #22 on the all-time world marathon list. That’s the good news. The bad news is she is just 13th on the 2022 world list as women all around the globe have been rocking it at the 26.2-mile distance. As great as Sisson looked coming home, the reality is Sisson still ran her second half (69:03) slower than Chepngetich did today (68:34) and Chepngetich was blowing up after a crazy 65:44 first half.

One issue moving forward is Sisson is made for flat marathons and the 2024 Olympic marathon course that came out this week isn’t flat. Now, unlike the 2020 US Olympic Trials course, the Paris course doesn’t have hills throughout. The first 15k and last 10k are totally flat. It remains to be seen how Sisson will do on a course like Paris, assuming she makes the US team.

More: Read what she had to say about her AR here: Emily Sisson on Her 2:18:29 American Marathon Record: “I had no clue what pace I was running…”.

You can watch video or Sisson’s post-race press conference below.

Emily Sisson talks at Press Conference

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