The USATF Half Marathon Championships were on Saturday in Indianapolis and if you were in a coma one month ago then this is probably coming as quite the surprise, as that’s roughly when it was announced. (It’s good to have you back though!) The fact that Emily Sisson had always planned to include this race into her racing schedule gave her quite the advantage over a field full of late entries, but then again, being Emily Sisson is an advantage of its own.
With the help of two male pacers (Brian Harvey and Eric Ashe), Sisson proved that she is back into pre-having-COVID form by setting a new American Record in the half marathon — 1:07:11. This eclipsed Sara Hall’s mark of 1:07:15 set way back in January. Before that the record was 1:07:25, set by Molly Huddle, and prior to that, it belonged to Deena Kastor when she ran 1:07:34 in 2006.
We should always take the time to celebrate and appreciate every personal best, broken record and national championship, but if you’re planning to nod off into another coma then don’t expect to wake up and have this still be the American Record. Emily didn’t even announce her intentions to hunt down the American Record beforehand, because she was unsure until recently that she’d be making it to the starting line at all. Who knows when the next stealth takedown of this oft-pursued record will take place?
Look at what’s happening around the world at the half marathon distance and tell me this record won’t be a minute faster soon! Since 2020, there have been 34 women in the world who have run 1:06:01 or faster — you’re telling me not one American woman is amongst the top 34 half marathoners in the world? As a patriot, I’m calling shenanigans.
Also, this is a minor pet peeve of mine. But it bothers me that every USATF headline about a record-breaking performance includes an asterisk stating “pending ratification by the USATF records committee.” Is that like, a legal requirement?
Anyway, in the men’s race, Leonard Korir continues to be very good at winning national titles in the half marathon as he has now hit the trifecta. This one was close though, coming down to the final steps as Korir couldn’t fully shake Futsum Zienasellassie, who might as well have been glued to Lenny — the final scoreboard read 1:02:35 to 1:02:36.
The coolest part of the race was when it jumped on the Indianapolis speedway — which isn’t quite every runner’s F1-adjacent pipe dream but seems close enough. While the Indy 500 has 33 cars start their engines, the USATF Half Marathon Championships only hosted 29 elite athletes. Now that’s environmentally friendly!
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