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Chicago Marathon

Emily Sisson smashes American record at Chicago Marathon

Emily Sisson placed second in the Chicago Marathon while smashing the American record for the distance.Matt Marton/Associated Press

It took nearly 16 years for Deena Kastor’s long-standing American women’s marathon record to fall.

Her time of 2 hours 19 minutes 36 seconds, 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 before the Sept. 25 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 as she lined up for the Chicago Marathon on Sunday — London in 2019, when she ran 2:23:08.


She entered 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 2:18:29, demolishing the American women’s marathon record by 43 seconds.

D’Amato, Kastor and Joan Benoit Samuelson, a two-time winner of the Boston Marathon and the first Olympic women’s marathon champion, were with Sisson in Chicago to celebrate.

Sisson, who finished 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 would challenge the world record. She finished in 2:14:18, just 14 seconds short of it.

Benson Kipruto of Kenya won the men’s race in 2:04:24.