Marathon mom: Tuliamuk to run Saturday in Olympic marathon

Former Wichita State star learns baby daughter dictates her training schedule. "I look back now and realize how naive I was."



August 5, 2021 - 10:38 AM

Aliphine Tuliamuk crosses the finish line to place first in the women's half-marathon at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa. Tuliamuk will represent the U.S. Saturday in the Tokyo Olympics.

TOKYO (AP) — Sometimes, her workouts on an exercise machine were cut short when Zoe started crying. 

Baby steps, U.S. marathoner Aliphine Tuliamuk reminded herself.

Sometimes, she stayed up late when Zoe was fussy, even though she had an early morning run.

Baby steps, she told herself.

By taking it slow and steady — advice from other long-distance running moms — Tuliamuk worked her way back after giving birth in January. All the way back to where she will be Saturday — the starting line for the women’s marathon in Sapporo for the Tokyo Games.

She was cleared to have a cheerleader, too — nearly 7-month-old Zoe Cherotich Gannon (she has a visa). This after helping push organizers to allow breastfeeding mothers to be allowed to take their babies to the Olympics.

Baby steps, indeed.

“It worked out,” Tuliamuk said, “perfectly.” 

The original plan was to start a family after the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. But when the Summer Games were postponed by the pandemic, the 32-year-old Tuliamuk and her fiancé, Tim Gannon, decided not to wait. She had a spot on the team thanks to her win at the U.S. marathon trials on Feb. 29, 2020, just days before the coronavirus shut things down.

She knows now just how fortunate she was to make it back in such a short time. Everything went according to plan with the pregnancy and the delivery on Jan. 13. The recovery as well. The only adjustment? Workouts are on Zoe time. 

“I look back now and I realize how naive I was,” Tuliamuk said. “I was very naive to think I would just get pregnant right away, I’d be able to run through my pregnancy, then I’d be able to come back really fast. Those are things that I didn’t know, but I also got very lucky.”

Following her daughter’s birth, she didn’t start running until around eight weeks later. From there, she eased back into it. That was on the advice of her doctor, her physical therapist and by drawing inspiration from runners/moms such as Kara Goucher and Alysia Montano. 

Tuliamuk got creative with her workouts, putting Zoe next to her as she got in a few minutes on an elliptical machine before stopping to feed her. 

Anything to start Tuliamuk on the path back.

“When she goes to sleep, I’d put her back to bed and go back and finish a workout — even if I’m really tired and don’t feel like training anymore,” said Tuliamuk, who divides her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona. “I’m like, ‘I have to do this.’ At night, sleep’s not guaranteed. I have to wake up and go run, feeling like a zombie.”