“When I’m dealing with pressure from racing and stuff, I just tell myself, “This is an opportunity of a lifetime.” When I was growing up, or I started running, I never thought that I would be the person that I am today. I never thought that I would be living in America, that I would be an independent woman doing my own thing. I have an opportunity that not a lot of people have—like not even my role models when I was in Kenya, they don’t have the opportunities that I have here. And so when I have that pressure, I just tell myself that I am in a better place and I don’t want to complain because this is not going to last forever and so I try to just enjoy the process.”
All she does is win, win, win, no matter what. Super excited to welcome nine-time U.S. national champion Aliphine Tuliamuk to the podcast. Tuliamuk went wire-to-wire to win the U.S. half-marathon championship in Pittsburgh on May 6 and followed that up less than a week later with her third-straight U.S. 25K title in Grand Rapids on May 12.
The 29-year-old Tuliamuk, a native of Kenya who became a U.S. citizen in 2016, lives in Flagstaff, Arizona and trains with coach Ben Rosario’s HOKA Northern Arizona Elite squad. She’s a graduate of Wichita State University, where she was 14-time All-American and earned a degree in public health.
“Without running, I would never have these opportunities,” Tuliamuk told me. “I have met some really, really incredible people in my life. And things have changed for me through running. It’s just amazing and running has changed so much for me. I think I get that drive from there. The things I’m able to do for my family—to be able to help my siblings pay their tuition—and if I wasn’t running, if I wasn’t here in America, I wouldn’t be able to do that. So I get that drive just because I am in a position where I can do things, and if I stop being self-motivated, then I’m not going to be able to do anything. And I feel like I still have so much in me. And people see me and they’re like, “Wow, you’re so accomplished.” But when I think about it, I just feel like I haven’t done much. I feel like I haven’t hit the jackpot that I need to. And so I still have to have self-drive in order to get to that point.”
In this episode, we dive into Tuliamuk’s story and what it was like to grow up in a small village in Kenya with 31 siblings. We also discuss her origins in running, her earliest recollections of racing and competition, and what led her to attend college in the U.S. Finally, we talk about what it was like assimilating to life in a new country, the differences she sees between Kenyan runners and American runners, why she’s excited to train alongside Stephanie Bruce and Kellyn Taylor in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon, how she deals with pressure in competitive situations, the importance of national championship races to her as a new U.S. citizen, where she hopes to invest her time and energy when her running career is over, and much, much more.
Related links, references, and resources:
— Check out her training log on Final Surge.
— Here’s Aliphine’s bio on the NAZ Elite website.
— Watch Tuliamuk win her third straight U.S. 25K title. “I never thought as a young kid that I would have opportunities like this,” Tuliamuk said afterward. “So I am just so grateful. And this race, I just have a special place in my heart for this race.”
— “It is the way of life for us,” says Tuliamuk, explaining to ESPNW’s Aishwarya Kumar why she was running 6 to 8 miles a day by the time she was 6 years old.
— Q&A with Aliphine Tuliamuk. “Up until then, I had heard of Tegla [Loroupe] being an awesome runner but hadn’t met her yet,” Tuliamuk recalls of receiving her first pair of racing shoes from the marathon legend. “She was on her way to the 2000 Olympics and she instantly became a role model and an inspiration to me. I wanted to be like her some day, a goal I am still working on.”
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This episode of the morning shakeout podcast was edited by John Isaac at BaresRecords.com
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