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Emily Sisson, Clayton Young win Gate River Run

Sisson dominates women’s field; Young pulls away at finish in men’s

Emily Sisson and Clayton Young won the Gate River Run women's and men's races on Saturday. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Emily Sisson started fast and never looked back.

On a blustery, windy Saturday morning in Jacksonville, Sisson turned in a dominant effort to win the 44th Gate River Run in dominant fashion.

Sisson, a professional runner who competes for New Balance, was superb in her first 15K. She built a lead not long into the Gate and stretched it throughout. Clayton Young, the men’s winner, didn’t have nearly the buffer as Sisson. He overcame a bunched pack in the final mile and won by two seconds in 43 minutes, 52 seconds.

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Sisson finished in 48:09, nearly a minute in front of Lindsay Flanagan. It was the fifth-fastest women’s time in the race history.

Sisson was coming off of a personal-best 14:55.82 in the 5K at the Sound Running Invite earlier this month in Los Angeles, but a 15K was not a distance in her wheelhouse.

“I wanted to run pretty aggressively from the start. With the win, that was kind of an unexpected element so I had to run a bit off field,” Sisson. “It was such an amazing field. They did a great job putting this on. I had a great time.”

Sisson’s win earned her $10,000, and she picked up an extra $5,000 for being the first person across the finish line with the five-minute equalizer bonus.

Emily Sisson describes her dominant performance in Saturday's Gate River Run.

“The only part I found really tricky was the last bridge at the end,” I was going up into the wind on it and I felt like I was nearly walking,” Sisson said. “Then we had the downhill to the finish so that was nice.”

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John Raneri led at the 5K split, but that 18-second margin dissipated by the time the Hart Bridge. Young, in a pack of runners at the Green Monster, slowly began chipping away inside that final mile and a half. A newcomer to the race, Young said that he didn’t know when to start his final kick until he saw the finish line not far in the distance.

Young pulled away in the final mile and turned in a 43:52. He was two seconds in front of Abbabiya Simbassa (43:54). The top 11 men’s finishers were stacked together and separated by just 23 seconds. The race’s 2019 winner, Shadrack Kipchirchir was third in 43:55. Last year’s winner, Frank Lara finished seventh in 44:02.

“They don’t call it the Green Monster for nothing. I was surprised there was such a pack at the top of that gigantic overpass,” Young said. “I hadn’t done this last mile before so I didn’t know when to make my move but I saw the finish line and I was like, now or never, and so I made my move and just didn’t look back.”

Gate River Run winners through the years

Year Men’s winner time; Women’s winner, time

1978 Bill Rodgers 44:46; Kim Merritt 55:46

1979 Jerry Odlin 46:04; Joan Benoit 51:47

1980 Bob Hodge 44:54; Jennifer White 53:11

1981 Dan Dillon 43:34; Patti Catalano 49:33*

1982 Mike Musyoki 43:33; Wendy Sly 49:52

1983 Nick Rose 43:42; Charlotte Teske 50:17

1984 Gidamis Shahanga 42:54; Midde Hamrin 50:12

1985 Simeon Kigen 43:26; Betty Springs 49:25*

1986 Arturo Barrios 43:18; Grete Waitz 48:53

1987 Arturo Barrios 43:00; Grete Waitz 49:05

1988 Steve Spence 43:20; Lynn Jennings 50:02

1989 John Halverson 43:12; Cathy O’Brien 49:45

1990 Ed Eyestone 43:58; Francie Larue Smith 49:39

1991 Steve Spence 43:41; Francie Larue Smith 48:43

1992 Valdenor Dos Santos 43:42; Olga Markova 49:20

1993 Benson Masya 43:59; Gwyn Coogan 51:26

1994 Todd Williams 43:42; Ann-Marie Letko 49:27

1995 Todd Williams 42:22*; Cathy O’Brien 48:55

1996 Todd Williams 43:49; Lynn Jennings 49:45

1997 Joe LeMay 43:35; Lynn Jennings 50:13

1998 Todd Williams 44:06; Jennifer Rhines 51:00

1999 Todd Williams 43:59; Lynn Jennings 50:05

2000 Dan Browne 44:26; Deena Drossin 49:40

2001 Meb Keflezighi 43:16; Deena Drossin 49:09

2002 Meb Keflezighi 42:49; Deena Drossin 48:12*

2003 Meb Keflezighi 43:31; Deena Drossin 47:15*

2004 Meb Keflezighi 43:18; Colleen De Reuck 49:02*

2005 Ryan Shay 43:50; Jennifer Rhines 49:21

2006 Meb Keflezighi 43:41; Blake Russell 49:14

2007 Meb Keflezighi 43:39; Deena Kastor 47:20

2008 Andrew Carlson 44:10; Deena Kastor 49:34

2009 Anthony Famiglietti 43:36; Amy Yoder-Begley 49:54

2010 Mo Trafeh 42:58; Katie McGregor 49:51

2011 Mo Trafeh 42:58; Jennifer Rhines 49:31

2012 Mo Trafeh 43:23; Janet Cherobon 49:41

2013 Ben True 43:38; Janet Cherobon-Bawcom 49:44

2014 Ben True 43:04; Shalane Flanagan 47:00*

2015 Ben True 44:02; Amy Hastings 50:18

2016 Stanley Kebenei 44:37; Tara Welling 50:34

2017 Leonard Korir 43:22; Jordan Hasay 49:28

2018 Leonard Korir 43:07; Molly Huddle 47:50

2019 Shadrack Kipchirchir 43:41; Erika Kemp 50:54

2020 Frank Lara 44:43; Marielle Hall 48:52

2021 Clayton Young 43:52; Emily Sisson 48:09

* Indicates American record that year


About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.