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Comfortably dressed for the weather in aquamarine knee highs, a matching NAZ Elite long-sleeve, shades, and a crocheted red, white, and blue beanie, there was no missing her on the starting line for the U. Olympic Marathon Trials. Yet few saw her coming.
But to her right and left were Jordan Hasay who then held the second-fastest marathon time in U. She was also barely six months recovered from a femoral stress fracture in her right leg. And she still seemed to be transitioning from a road-race specialist to the longer It was a heady moment, her jangling nerves betraying her outer chill before yielding to an inner audacity.
Then around the mile mark, Tuliamuk broke away from the pack with marathon rookie Molly Seidel, and the world leaned in for a closer look. How did she dust the deepest trials field in decades? And also, that hat: Does it come in a large? Aliphine Tuliamuk is crocheting. But Tuliamuk—the kind of bright, inquisitive soul who delights in converting social media followers into offline friends—makes no mention of this renowned hobby of hers.
In Juneshe was diagnosed with that femoral stress fracture in her right leg. Looking at eight to 12 weeks for the bone to heal, she was desperate for a mental escape from not running that could also fulfill her need for disciplined habits. After a brief stint as an Uber driver—the income was nice, but the sitting was too much—she found her way to crocheting through YouTube.
And after one how-to video, she was, well, hooked. And a perverted family game those crochet hooks were tugging at her competitive side, with Tuliamuk making a game out of how many she could crochet in a day. One hat became five, became 10, became Twenty became hundreds. Selling them presented other complications. But in the end, opening an Etsy shop was a lot less work. Early sales s were nothing to write home about, but that was just as well. On September 1st, Tuliamuk was healed but only jogging 16 minutes for her third run back. By the 15th she was back to plus miles. Two months later she was racing her second New York City Marathon and, on a lark, wearing one of her beanies—a fashion choice that caught the attention of winner-turned-commentator Shalane Flanagan, who promoted the beanies on the air.
Tuliamuk finished in as the third-fastest American, and 12th in a stacked field.
Rosario was gob-smacked. But she needed that marathon to gain confidence for the trials.
But it also held her back at much longer distances. Rosario got to work developing her ability to pace herself. Rosario would make a point of getting Tuliamuk to run more evenly over the course of a marathon than she did at shorter distances, where she liked to drop big midrace surges.
Her rewards for doing both were six minutes off her personal best and a bronze medal. A perverted family game the two reached the final hill around mile 25, Tuliamuk looked over her shoulder. And she charged into the last-mile hill leaving Seidel in her wake.
It was enough time to celebrate early, enjoy the crowds, and coast in—her tactics and patience paid in full. Instead she found another gear and sprinted to the tape with a small American flag in hand, as fans plus deep urged her on. Shooting her hands up in victory, Aliphine broke the tape atthen turned around with open arms to greet Seidel. Next across the line was Kipyego, the other native Kenyan, who rounded out the podium in Atlanta and with Tuliamuk made history as the first Black women set to represent the U.
No one knew anything about running in my immediate community. That community includes her 31 siblings. Tuliamuk ran, but it was simply how you got around. By age 6 she was logging six to eight miles a day—to the river for household water, to the market for groceries, and one day to a pharmacy after an infant brother had fallen ill.
My brother died without medical care. And then my mother had another child after that, and he also died because he never had access to medical care. That really broke my heart. In the fourth grade, Tuliamuk followed an older sister onto the school track-and-field team. She would take second against a field of older kids and begin to dream of a career as a professional runner.
Even so, Tuliamuk never though that path could lead her to America. But Ptormos did—so much so that he brought her into his family home in a nearby village to train for the next eight years. Modern conveniences, too. A ninth-place finish there at age 15, along with her stellar grades throughout high school, earned her a scholarship to Iowa State—where a different kind of culture shock awaited.
Ames, Iowa, is a far cry from Kongelai—flat, cold, and whiter than white. And when Tuliamuk arrived on campus in the fall ofshe could shrug off the microaggressions she encountered. Tuliamuk has fond memories of living on an Iowa farm with her host family and going on camping trips with them in the summertime.
When she started looking around at programs more compatible with her twin goals of making the Olympics and becoming a nurse, she decided Wichita State was the best fit. A shark was born. A supremely disappointing seventh-place finish in the New York City Half Marathon nearly convinced her to walk away from running altogether. On the other side of those disappointments was this new, more challenging phase of her long-distance running career—a And the hats-off moment in Atlanta was the culmination of an American dream.
But she never imagined that someone could lose their life on an afternoon jog less than miles away. For millions, the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer lit a fuse. But hitting even closer to home for Tuliamuk was the tragedy of Ahmaud Arbery—the Brunswick, Georgia, runner who was gunned down while jogging by a perverted family game trio of white vigilantes.
But she had to. The idea that something as simple as running could be perverted by bigotry and racism is just so completely unfathomable to her. But racism has made running an inherently suspicious activity for A perverted family game people. As a woman who also wanted to start a family, Tuliamuk saw more worrying in her future. I hope that by the time I have my children, the world will be a better place.
She and Gannon figured they had about a year to make it happen and get her back into form for the rescheduled Olympics, leaving little margin for error or delay. Rosario had worried the couple might not conceive as quickly as planned. But he had trusted her instincts and her career commitment. She held off making a public announcement until December Tuliamuk now had roughly seven months to prepare for Tokyo.
And though she may be the newest mother at the games, she would be in good company among elite marathon moms. And Tuliamuk had support from fellow moms on her team in Taylor and Stephanie Bruce. While pregnant, Tuliamuk strung together an week streak of mile runs—a personal best—before throttling down to six miles, and then just a couple, as her due date approached. But Zoe came out perfectly healthy—5 pounds and 8 ounces, 18 inches—while Tuliamuk escaped with little more than intermittent sciatic nerve pain.
By the spring of she was back to logging mile runs and working with a physiotherapist and a pelvic-floor specialist to accelerate her postpartum healing and rebuild her core muscles. Feedings and diaper changes now fill the downtime that Tuliamuk used to reserve for naps and crocheting. Not long after Tuliamuk and I hung up last summer, she texted me a photo of a beanie she had all but completed as we spoke. A few days after a quick Venmo exchange, it showed up on my doorstep—a perfect fit.
After some 1, Etsy sales, most of them stoked by her breakout performances in New York and Atlanta, Tuliamuk put a pin in her beanie business. She has an Olympic Marathon to prepare for. And if anything else should happen to come up that would prompt a more urgent response, rest assured: She's unlikely to keep it under her hat. Trail Running. United States. Type keyword s to search. Related Stories. Tuliamuk celebrates her Olympic Marathon Trials win while wearing one of her beanies.
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