SISSON RUNS AWAY WITH FIRST NATIONAL TITLE AT TUFTS 10-K
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
BOSTON (10-Oct) -- Emily Sisson won her first U.S. road racing national
title on a crystal clear day here at the 40th annual Tufts Health Plan
10-K for Women, serving as the U.S. 10-K Championships. The 24-year-old
Providence resident kept her head down and found herself all alone by
the second mile, yet would not let up until breaking the tape in a
personal best of 31:47.
"I'm really, really happy to have my first title. It's so exciting!" said Sisson, steps from the finish line.
Leaving no question as to who would be the champion today, Sisson
promptly took the lead from the gun and pressed the pace. Sisson knew
the flat course well, having run in the wake of training partner Molly
Huddle when Huddle established the 31:20.4 event record last Columbus
Day. With no Huddle to chase this time around, Sisson wanted to see what
she could do from the gun.
Like Huddle, Sisson looked like a metronome from the opening mile
(5:02). Crossing the famed Massachusetts Avenue Bridge over the Charles
River, a strong headwind hit Sisson full force. While Northern Arizona
Elite's Rochelle Kanuho and the B.A.A.'s Sarah Pagano stuck with Sisson
early, only Pagano remained alongside when they reached the northern
banks of the Charles.
Eyes glued on the pavement ahead, Sisson's tempo proved to be just a tad
strong for Pagano's liking. By two miles, Pagano had five steps on the
Bostonian, and the gap would steadily grow by 5-K (15:49).
"She was really strong the whole time and consistent. I tried to stay
with her but I knew to stay a bit conservative to save a little bit for
the end," said Pagano.
Though Sisson didn't have much experience leading a U.S. championships
race, she felt comfortable with the roads all to herself. Referencing
knowledge gained from her 2015 runner-up showing, Sisson raced as if
she'd been a seasoned veteran. Her mindset was buffered by words of
encouragement from coach Ray Treacy prior to the race.
"This year I was like, 'OK, I'm going to be leading it, I'm not afraid'.
I was excited. I wanted to run my race and make it a strong solid pace
from the start," she described. "I remember Ray saying before the race
that if you find you have a gap, don't panic and don't feel like you
need to keep pushing. Just keep running strong and be confident, be
comfortable and don't go over the edge. That's what I tried to do."
Sisson's gap was more than 20 seconds by halfway and would only continue
to grow on the return run towards Boston Common. Sisson could have
taken a moment to savor the glistening city skyline had she wanted;
after mile five (reached in 25:32) her lead was greater than a full city
Sisson cruised through the tape in 31:47, raising her hands in
celebration before a wreath of olive leaves was placed atop her head.
The wreath quickly was blown off by a gusty wind, the only hiccup to
hopes today's victory is just a precursor to a busy fall racing season
that includes the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler on November 6 and the
Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving Day in Connecticut.
"Running from the front was different but I just kept telling myself
it's a good opportunity and its good practice to keep challenging
myself. I'm glad it went well!" Sisson said. For her efforts, Sisson
earned $7650. She plans to celebrate with her father Mark and boyfriend
Shane Quinn, both of whom were in town to support her.
"I really wanted the title. I hadn't got one yet, and that was
motivating me so much. It's really nice to have one, I'm very happy,"
she said. Later she'd add "I'm just really motivated to keep improving
on the roads. I love running road races and I'll be doing plenty of
Sisson gave credit to both Huddle and New Zealand's Kim Smith, both
training partners who have taken her under their wing and helped ease
the transition into professional running. Smith wound up finishing
seventh in 33:17.
Forty-four seconds behind Sisson was Pagano, her time of 32:31 a new
personal best. Pagano took pride in her highest finish ever at a U.S.
Championships, especially considering it came at home in Boston. Her
finish also helped the B.A.A. secure the national team title for the
third straight year. The B.A.A. (made up of Pagano, Jen Rhines
[8th/33:30], and Margo Malone [26th/35:46]) defeated the Hansons-Brooks
Distance Project, 1:41:47 to 1:42:56.
"I was just trying to finish as high as I could," Pagano said.
Reflecting on the year as a whole --one that's been a breakthrough with
PB's at 5000m, 10,000m, 15-K and in the half-marathon-- Pagano was
motivated. "I think I've made some progress forward and I just want to
keep that momentum, try to be a competitor in these races, get top
three. I'm really happy I was able to do that today."
Pagano and her B.A.A. teammates will now travel to Mammoth Lakes,
Calif., for a training camp at high altitude led by coach Terrence
Placing third, and running in the open division, was Kenya's Monicah
Ngige in 32:36, followed by Lauren Paquette in 32:52. Becky Wade
out-sprinted Lindsey Scherf for fifth, each timing 33:03. Scherf pulled
off a rare USA Championships double, having placed eighth at the USA 10
Mile Championships yesterday.
The Tufts Health Plan 10-K was the final race of the 2016 USATF Running Circuit.
PHOTO: Emily Sisson on her way to victory at the 2016 Tufts Health Plan
10-K for Women (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)