Clayton Young wins 2023 Faxon Law New Haven Road 20K national championship

New Haven Register
William Aldam
September 04, 2023

NEW HAVEN — The 46th Faxon Law New Haven Road race boasted one of its most impressive fields of runners to date Monday, and it lived up to the hype with a photo finish in the men's 20K national championship race.

Clayton Young was the winner in the 20K, finishing in 59:15, just one second ahead of his training partner and last year's champion, Conner Mantz.

"We both trained in Chicago together, and there was a lot of talk before the race about strategy and what we should do," Young said. "When we were breaking away with about 600 meters to go, I knew I was feeling good and I had a shot, but I also knew that Conner (Mantz) has a deadly kick and he won it last year."

Overall, the road race featured seven Olympians and four past 20K national champions, though this year two new winners were crowned. Emily Sisson won the women's 20K national championship, finishing in 1:06.59.

Both runners overcame a confusing segment after the 10 mile mark near East Rock Park as Young started to veer to turn left, leading to Mantz wanting to backtrack.

"We doubled back just maybe 10 meters," Young said. "But it was a complete stop and then go."

"Clayton really knows the course well, and he will map it all out before hand," Mantz said. "We went the right way and then Clayton said 'left turn here', so I turned around and as the competitors were coming they told us 'No, you were going the right way', so I had to make a U-turn again."

The photo finish was somewhat calculated, as the two runners had discussed strategy both before and during the final leg of the race.

Young entered the race with 27 total points in the USATF Running Circuit Standings, good for fifth place in the nation. Mantz on the other hand has not competed in as many races, which factored into the conversations.

“We talked a little bit about the points leading into this race,” Young said. “Towards the end we talked and I said, ‘What do you say, what do you think we should do?’”

Young placed fifth at the 51st Falmouth (Mass.) Road Race, a 10K event held Aug. 20.

“Mantz is an incredible training partner,” Young said. “He is the one leading just about every workout. We trade off sometimes but he is the real workhorse.”

The 31-year old Sisson, who set the U.S. Marathon record in the 2022 Chicago Marathon and was a 2021 Olympian in the 10,000 meter race, had finished second at the New Haven Road Race last year.

"I am really happy with it, it was a great field and I knew it was going to be a tough race," Sisson said. "To be able to grind out a hard 12 mile effort in the middle of marathon training. I wanted to try and win, and I knew I would have to run the best I could. I was happy to pull away at the end a little bit."

Sission set the American marathon record in Chicago last year when she ran 2:18:29 to shatter the previous mark by 43 seconds.

Sisson, like Mantz and Young, is in the midst of training for the Chicago Marathon in October, but always enjoys the opportunity to race closer to home.

“I live in Providence, Rhode Island, so it is so nice to just drive an hour and a half down and go back at night,” said Sisson, who starred at Providence College. “I love it. It used to train a lot in Arizona and going across the country is a much bigger effort. I love all of the east coast races.”