Road Racing Ramping Up

Emily Sisson had a margin of more than a minute as she rolled to the USATF 15K title. (KEVIN MORRIS)

JUST AS TRACK is slowly coming back somewhat to normalcy so is the road scene, even if April won’t be featuring marathons in Boston or London. The latest major off-track races, which included some significant walking:

USATF 15K Titles To Sisson & Young

Jacksonville, Florida, March 20 — The wind didn’t do any favors for Emily Sisson at the Gate River Run 15K, but she still managed a dominating win in 48:09 that also gave her the USATF title for the 9.32M distance. That put the 29-year-old more than a minute ahead of runner-up Lindsay Flanagan’s 49:14.

Sisson had hit 5K in 15:39 and 10K in 31:34, only 14 seconds off the pace that Shalane Flanagan had used to set the American Record of 47:00 at the same race in ’14. “The game plan was just to run aggressively from the start,” said Sisson.

On the men’s side, a patient Clayton Young stayed with the pack while early leader John Raneri took off hard from the start. By 5K, Raneri had a 14-second lead on the pack. Just after 10K (29:05) they caught him, and in the final stretch, 6 battled it out, with the former BYU star having the most potent kick.

Young’s 43:52 gave him his first national title. Biya Simbassa grabbed 2nd in 43:54, edging Shadrack Kipchirchir (also 43:54).

Said Young, “I was just going to play it safe and stick in it for as long as I could. I wasn’t familiar with the last mile of the race, and so when I saw the finish line my eyes lit up and was like, ‘Welp! Now or never,’ and I went for it. Glad I did.”

In the “gender battle” Sisson had no problem pocketing a $5000 bonus, as the women had been given a 6-minute head start.

Men: 1. Clayton Young (Asics) 43:52; 2. Biya Simbassa (unat) 43:54; 3. Shadrack Kipchirchir (Nik) 43:54; 4. Nico Montanez (unat) 43:55; 5. Kirubel Erassa (unat) 43:56; 6. Colin Bennie (unat) 43:56; 7. Frank Lara (Roots) 44:02; 8. Reed Fischer (US) 44:02; 9. Chris Derrick (US) 44:04; 10. John Raneri (McKT) 44:15.
Women: 1. Emily Sisson (NBal) 48:09; 2. Lindsay Flanagan (Asics) 49:14; 3. Emily Durgin (UA) 49:29; 4. Makena Morley (Asics) 49:38; 5. Erika Kemp (BAA) 50:10; 6. Grayson Murphy (unat) 50:14; 7. Maggie Montoya (unat) 50:25; 8. Laura Thweatt (unat) 50:31; 9. Sarah Pagano (unat) 50:36; 10. Diane Nukuri (unat) 50:44.

World Record Walk For Jiayu Yang

Huangshan, China, March 20 — China’s Jiayu Yang took down the World Record for the 20K road walk with her 1:23:49 at the Chinese Championships. That sliced 49 seconds off the previous best of 1:24:38 set by Olympic champ Hong Liu in ’15.

Liu improved on her own best in 2nd place, hitting 1:24:27, despite trailing Yang from the start.

Yang, 25, opened up with a first 5K in 20:55, followed by segments of 20:57 (41:52), 20:52 (1:02:44) and 21:09.

It was a planned WR attempt, she told reporters. “I walked in a very fast pace at the early stages. Then my coach told me to slow down a little bit and stay in a relatively comfortable pace. The last three kilometers was the most difficult part which was a challenge for my body.”

The top 10 all bettered the Olympic standard. The WR got a scare on the men’s side as well, with Kaihua Wang cruising 1:16:54 to miss the mark by 18 seconds and move to No. 2 on the all-time list.

Men’s 20W: I–1. Kaihua Wang 1:16:54 NR (WL) (2, 2 W); 2. Zelin Cai 1:17:39 PR; 3. Jun Zhang 1:17:39 PR; 4. Lihong Cui 1:17:52 PR; 5. Shuai Sun 1:18:04 PR; 6. Hao Xu 1:18:44 PR; 7. Yao Zhang 1:18:59 PR; 8. Wenchao Niu 1:19:33 PR.
50W: 1. Yadong Luo 3:46:51; 2. Qin Wang 3:47:35; 3. Tongda Bian 3:47:56; 4. Rui Wang 3:49:08; 5. Qingsheng Ceng 3:50:49 PR; 6. Zhongkai Meng 3:51:50 PR; 7. Song Sun 3:52:36 PR; 8. Hao Wang 3:54:09.
Women’s 20W: I–1. Jiayu Yang 1:23:49 WR (old WR 1:24:38 Hong Liu [Chn] ’15); 2. Hong Liu 1:24:27 PR (2, 2 W); 3. Shenjie Qieyang 1:24:45 PR (3, 4 W); 4. Xiuzhi Lu 1:25:51; 5. Liujing Yang 1:25:59 PR; 6. Zhenxia Ma 1:27:46 PR.

A Pair Of Fast Japanese Marathons

The Olympics’ host nation loves 26-milers and staged a pair of fast ones as winter turned to spring. First up was the men’s Lake Biwa race (Otsu, February 28). The depth was amazing, as 100 runners ran 2:15:19 or faster, 50th clocked in at 2:10:49 and 5 broke 2:07.

Fastest of all was Kengo Suzuki, a 25-year-old with 27:49 track credentials, who improved his marathon best all the way from 2:10:21 to a world-leading 2:04:56. He won by a minute and a half but did not collect a 100-million-yen bonus (c$938,000) as other recent Japanese Record setters did. That incentive program, depleted by frequent awards 2015–2020, was terminated last year.

On the women’s side the Nagoya race (March 14) found Mizuki Matsuda scoring a 2:21:51 win that was just 4 seconds off her PR. Her margin of victory was more than 2½ minutes as she moved to No. 2 on the yearly list behind the 2:21:11 run by Mao Ichiyama in Osaka on January 31.

Lake Biwa Men: 1. Kengo Suzuki (Jpn) 2:04:56 NR; 2. Hidekazu Hijikata (Jpn) 2:06:26 PR; 3. Kyohei Hosoya (Jpn) 2:06:35 PR; 4. Hirohito Inoue (Jpn) 2:06:47 PR; 5. Yusuke Ogura (Jpn) 2:06:51 PR.

Nagoya Women: 1. Mizuki Matsuda (Jpn) 2:21:51; 2. Sayaka Sato (Jpn) 2:24:32; 3. Natsumi Matsushita (Jpn) 2:26:26 PR; 4. Yumeki Waku (Jpn) 2:26:30 PR; 5. Hanae Tanaka (Jpn) 2:26:49; 6. Yomogi Akasaka (Jpn) 2:26:51 PR.

Other Walk Highlights…

USATF long-walk titles went to Nick Christie (50K in 4:10:53) and Robyn Stevens (35K in 3:01:08)… The big walk festival in Dudince, Slovakia, found Mexicans winning both of the 20Ks with PRs: Andrés Olivas 1:19:54, Valeria Ortuño 1:29:11. Guatemala’s Bernando Uriel Barrondo PRed to win the 50K at 3:47:01… Toshikazu Yamanishi won the Japanese men’s 20K with the No. 5 performance ever, 1:17:20. □