Aliphine Tuliamuk poses after winning the women's 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials on Feb. 29, 2020 in Atlanta.
Still not yet fully coherent or comprehending, Aliphine Tuliamuk’s child is already taking after her mother in one area.
She is vocal when appropriate.
Reached by phone two days ahead of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Tuliamuk reflected on her first 16 months as a mother-athlete while daughter Zoe lent the background a sing-songy soundtrack of typical toddler talk.
Between that and her husband Tim Gannon’s presence in a city and on an occasion of significance to her life and career, Tuliamuk is practically in a perfect place.
Per the event’s website, she credits the Pittsburgh Marathon with establishing its enterprise as “painful but worth the struggle.” She had won the 2018 half-marathon there at one hour, 10 minutes and four seconds, and had met Gannon around the same time.
The equivalent of an Olympic cycle has elapsed since that last time in the Steel City, but as she embarked on her encore, Tuliamuk pledged, “We will continue to bring our family here. We continue to make good memories here.”
The family of three already has a precedent for trips like this from last summer in Sapporo, Japan. They owe that foundation largely to Tuliamuk’s outspoken lobbying for an exemption from the COVID-19 restrictions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Tuliamuk had Zoe in the winter of 2021, midway through the Olympics’ originally scheduled timetable and eventual make-up. Even when that wait ended, pandemic-induced precautions entailed a no-families policy for the athletes.
That was not going to work for Team USA’s nursing mothers. So Tuliamuk took her Pittsburgh principle to a pad and pen, asking the International Olympic Committee to honor her and Zoe’s extenuating circumstances.
By July 13, around the time of Zoe’s half-birthday, the family had received a coveted visa. Any struggle to get there was worth dissipating the dilemma.
“The lessons that you learn from running are some of the lessons that you learn in life,” Tuliamuk said. “(Zoe) was so young, and I wanted her to be there and I didn’t want to have to choose between my career and my family.”