It took nearly 16 years for Deena Kastor’s longstanding American marathon record to fall.
Her time of 2 hours 19 minutes 36 minutes, set in London in 2006, seemed untouchable until this year, when Keira D’Amato ran 2:19:12 in Houston.
D’Amato knew what was to come. “There’s a number of American women that are also gunning for that record, so I think if I don’t lower it myself, it’s not going to be mine for very much longer,” she said ahead of the Berlin Marathon, where she finished in a disappointing 2:21:48.
Enter Emily Sisson, the 30-year-old American half-marathon record-holder, who competed in the 10,000 meters at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She had one official marathon under her belt — London in 2019, when she ran 2:23:08 — when she lined up for the Chicago Marathon this morning.
She came into the race confident, saying she would go for the American record if she was having a good day.
She had quite the day indeed. Sisson ran a negative split and finished with a commanding sprint to finish in a time of 2:18:29, demolishing the American marathon record by 43 seconds.
D’Amato, Kastor and Joan Benoit Samuelson, the a two-time winner of the Boston Marathon and the first Olympic women’s marathon champion, were side by side with Sisson to celebrate in Chicago on Sunday morning.
Sisson, who was second in the race Sunday, is the first American woman to run 26.2 miles in under 2:19.
The winner of the women’s race was the defending champion, Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, who for a time looked as if she was going for the world record. She finished in 2:14:18, just 14 seconds short of the world record.