This week’s edition of “Run Like a Girl” is dedicated to none other than Dutch runner Sifan Hassan. For months together, we’ve tackled the notion of “running like a girl” seen through examples of strong women in the long distance community. It seems fitting to wrap up the school year with perhaps the most exemplary example of what it means to run like a girl — in Hassan.
This past week, Hassan put up a stunning performance in just her first marathon, running a time of 2:18:33 on the London course in unideal rainy conditions. Even more shockingly, Hassan accomplished this feat after stopping twice during the race for stretch breaks necessitated by a nagging hip injury that has afflicted her in recent seasons. According to The Guardian, Hassan said after the race that she was “born for the drama” after having to make up time and large gaps between competitors following the two pauses. Sifan also almost got taken out by a race motorbike. Indeed, she was born for the drama!
To put Hassan’s time into context, the current American Record in the marathon is 2:18:29, which Emily Sisson set in October 2022. The current World Record in the marathon is held by Kenyan runner Brigid Kosgei with a time of 2:14:04, which she set in 2019. Hassan clearly places herself among the greats with her London performance.
The scary thing is, Hassan has shown that her range is essentially unlimited. For those who don’t know who Hassan is, it is past time to get acquainted. She is a two-time Olympic gold medal winner and an Olympic bronze medal winner. At the most recent Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Sifan committed to doing a triple, or participating in three Olympic events, in the 1500, 5000 and 10,000 meter runs, with hopes of winning gold in all three. She fell just seconds short of winning a third gold medal in the 1500 race.
Hassan also has a speedy 800 time of 1:56:81 but can’t compete in the event at the Olympics because of its multiple rounds. The 800m and the 1500m runs, too, are more of a sprint than a long distance race at this point — with competitors hitting fast splits from the gun. So, the fact that Hassan is able to do these shorter distances as well as the marathon is astonishing.
As I was scouring the internet while reading about Hassan’s recent run in London, some online articles suggested that Hassan would try to quadruple at the next Olympics. If anyone could run all four distance races in the Olympics, it would be Hassan. We shouldn’t be shocked if she attempts this seemingly impossible feat. Hassan is forging her own path and developing her legacy as a superstar runner.
However, Hassan’s past has been tarnished by the actions of her previous coach Alberto Salazar, who was caught for doping and banned for four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Hassan is now coached by Tim Rowberry, a former assistant of Salazar. While one might be skeptical at first of Hassan’s coaches, she maintains that she has always been clean. In the future, while Hassan’s running speaks for itself, her past will always come under scrutiny as a result of these relationships.
Nonetheless, Hassan is the runner to watch. She has consistently been tested, coming up with clean results each time and facing extra scrutiny and testing as she becomes more successful. With perfect running form and a smile on her face, Hassan is ready to take the next step towards greatness — and she continues to shrug off her doubters, indeed in dramatic fashion.
Isabella Terry is a first-year student in the School of Foreign Service. Run Like a Girl appears online and in print every three weeks.