USATF Road 5K Titles To Chelimo & Sisson

The finish was another Paul Chelimo special as he untangled himself well enough to win. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

New York, New York, November 03—A year ago, Paul Chelimo ended up on the wrong side of a mass sprint at the end of the USATF 5K Championships, placing 4th in a race in which the first 6 finishers came home in a 2-second span. This year he worked with a pair of his training partners to string the field out early and had just enough of a kick to take the title in Central Park. Emily Sisson avoided any drama on the women’s side by controlling the second half of the race for an easy national title.

The winners each picked up $12,000 for their efforts on a course that starts at the United Nations HQ, winds through midtown Manhattan and shares a finishing stretch with tomorrow’s New York City Marathon.

Chelimo, defending champion Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei bolted right to the front, with only a few challengers briefly giving chase. After the first mile it was clear that the Colorado Springs-based athletes would fill out the podium, with only the specific order to be determined. “We planned this like one month ago,” Chelimo said. “Stanley declared warfare. He said, ‘By the time we get to mile 1 you guys are going to see fire.’”

The trio ran together until the final 200m climb to the finish, when Kebenei lost contact with his allies. Chelimo and Kipchirchir frantically drove for the tape, their arms flailing into each other in the final strides. Chelimo got the win as each clocked a course record 13:45, followed by Kebenei (13:53), Eric Jenkins (14:00), Kirubel Erassa (14:01), Leonard Korir (14:01), Emmanuel Bor (14:02) and Olympic 1500 champ Matthew Centrowitz (14:02).

“I didn’t want a race like last year where 10 people were kicking it home with 400m to go,” said Chelimo, owner of global 5000 medals from the 2016 Olympics (silver) and 2017 Worlds (bronze). “A faster race favors me more. Because in a slower-paced race, trust me, anybody can win. But a fast race it only takes people who are fit and ready for it.”

The women’s race, starting 5 minutes after the men, began with a much more conservative tempo, with most of the field in contention as they made their way across 42nd Street towards the first mile marker. Sisson lost patience for the relaxed pace and started opening up a gap in the second mile that grew to as much as 50m. She continued her solo run through the closing segment in Central Park and finished in 15:38 to finally win this title after placing 2nd in ’16 and 3rd in ’15. This was her second national title on the roads, following the 10K crown 2 years ago.

“I thought someone else was gonna take it out and make it faster,” said the Providence grad, who is eyeing her marathon debut come spring. “I just felt really good, so I kept pushing. That wasn’t the exact plan. I thought I would wait until later in Central Park. But I felt good so I’m glad I went earlier.”

Erika Kemp was the surprise runner-up, breaking free of the chase pack over the final kilometer. Only 10th in the NCAA race last June, the NC State grad clocked 15:50, ahead of Olympians Amy Cragg (15:54) and Kim Conley (16:01). Shalaya Kipp (16:03) rounded out the top 5. “It hasn’t sunk in yet how good 2nd-place here is,” Kemp admitted. “I was in college just a few months ago. This is a really good confidence booster.”


New York, New York, November 03—


1. Paul Chelimo 13:45 (course record); 2. Shadrack Kipchirchir 13:45 (=course record); 3. Stanley Kebenei 13:53; 4. Eric Jenkins 14:00; 5. Kirubel Erassa 14:01; 6. Leonard Korir 14:01; 7. Emmanuel Bor 14:02; 8. Matthew Centrowitz 14:02; 9. Josef Tessema 14:05; 10. Willy Fink 14:07… 16. Donn Cabral 14:16;… 22. Will Leer 14:30


1. Emily Sisson 15:38; 2. Erika Kemp 15:50; 3. Amy Cragg 15:54; 4. Kim Conley 16:01; 5. Shalaya Kippp 16:03; 6. Emily Durgin 16:05; 7. Lauren Paquette 16:06; 8. Aisling Cuffe 16:06; 9. Erin Clark 16:07; 10. Allie Buchalski 16:09; 11. Jessica Tonn 16:14; 12. Mel Lawrence 16:20.