Aliphine Tuliamuk Plans To Start A Family, Valencia Wows, The Track Meet Provides OTQs + More

More on U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champion Aliphine Tuliamuk's pregnancy ahead of the Tokyo Olympics + unpacking results from Valencia and California.

This is the CITIUS MAG Newsletter, a weekly round-up of the biggest stories in the running and track & field community with analysis and commentary by me, Chris Chavez. If you’ve been forwarded this email or stumbled upon a link online, you can sign up and subscribe here:

Hello! Apologies for not delivering a newsletter last week. I got caught up finishing up work on my latest feature for Sports Illustrated and I’m happy to finally share it with you! U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champion Aliphine Tuliamuk is expecting her first child ahead of next summer’s Tokyo Olympics. My latest piece is titled: One of 32 Siblings, Aliphine Tuliamuk Prepares to Start Her Own Family

I started working on this story in June when I figured it would be interesting to take a deeper look at Aliphine Tuliamuk’s upbringing in Kenya. I first heard that she was one of 32 siblings in a conversation with ESPN’s John Anderson before the 2017 New York City Marathon. It’s always stood out to me like a fun fact that you would find on the back of a baseball card. I touched base with Aliphine in late June and we spoke for more than an hour about her family, her village and cultural differences in Kenya. I learned so much and I hope you do as well.

A few other projects tied me up in the summertime so I was unable to finish and publish the story in July or August. When I learned of Aliphine’s pregnancy, I decided that was the perfect tie-in to get this story to my editors and out into the world after she shared her announcement on Instagram. In addition to her backstory, my story touches on the decision-making process that went into planning to start a family as well as being one of the biggest stars to go on maternity leave just a year after Nike faced backlash for its policies regarding pregnancies. Coach Ben Rosario said to me that with HOKA One One and NAZ Elite, there’s never been the thought of punishing someone in any way, shape or form for having a family instead “we celebrate it.”

I also decided to take part of the audio from my final interview with Aliphine and flip it into a bonus podcast episode, which is available to listen to now.

Here are a few notes that were left on the cutting room floor: 

– When Aliphine learned she was having a daughter a part of her felt a sense of relief for her child’s future. Like many Americans in 2020, Aliphine watched and read about the harsh realities and life experiences that Black boys and men face at the hands of police officers in the United States. The fear of a Black son one day being unjustly perceived as a threat and becoming a hashtag is real. In June, Tuliamuk shared an Instagram post expressing her disappointment in how much NBC Sports’ broadcast overlooked her even in the late stages of the race when she was the clear leader. She wrote: “I wondered if the reason was that I was a Black woman, or that I am a Kenyan-American, (so not American enough?)” Even in 2020, running still deals with its share of flak from those who discredit the accomplishments of naturalized American citizens who were born in East Africa. Here’s what she told me this month: “I think I’m more aware of my race now than I ever have been. Santa Fe and Flagstaff can be pretty diverse but I often think if I was running in a different city and in a certain neighborhood, would people look at me and think that I was there to steal or do something bad. I had been shielded for a long time but these last few months changed me a lot.”

– Ben Rosario on Aliphine holding out hope for races despite injury in 2019 and then amid the global pandemic in 2020: “She struggled with the Olympics being canceled for a little bit but you can’t hold Aliphine down for very long. She was positive. She’s just a great human being. She’s a role model because she is the modern athlete. She understands the importance of athletics and she understands that this is her job but she also understands the importance of life outside of running. Anyone in any job should understand that life outside of their job is important. It’s all intertwined. Her happiness outside of life makes her a better runner and vice versa. This is something she wanted to do. The timing of it happens to be before the Olympics but it could have easily been before Boston. She was going to do this either way at some point. For me and from my vantage point, the timing has been perfect.”


NEWS AND RESULTS ROUNDUP

We’ve had an uptick in news from around the running world so I’ll do my best to condense it into the most snackable format for you to consume:

– Valencia was unreal this past weekend. In the men’s half marathon, Kibiwott Kandie smashed Geoffrey Kamworor’s 58:01 half marathon world record by running 57:32. (His previous personal best was 58:37 and he wasn’t wearing Nike shoes. He was wearing the Adizero Pro kicks.) He wasn’t the only one though! Jacob Kiplimo (2nd, 57:37); Rhonex Kipruto (3rd, 57:49) and Alexander Mutiso (4th, 57:59) also got under Kamworor’s record. 

Genzebe Dibaba, who we didn’t see in action on the Diamond League circuit over the summer, made her half marathon debut and won in 65:18. Back in fifth place, Emily Sisson ran the second-fastest U.S. all-time half in 67:26  (just a second shy of Molly Huddle’s 67:25 record from 2018)

The men’s and women’s marathon saw a Kenyan sweep. Evans Chebet outkicked Boston/Chicago champion Lawrence Cherono to set a new course record of 2:03:00. Cherono was just four seconds back. They’re now No. 6 and No. 7 on the all-time list. 4 men broke 2:04! (Birhanu Legese, 3rd in 2:03:16 + Amos Kipruto, 4th in 2:03:33). In the women’s race, Peres Jepchirchir capped off her brilliant 2020 with a 2:17:16 victory for the 5th fastest marathon of all-time. She won the half marathon world title in October. Joyciline Jepkosgei was second in 2:18:40. Jordan Hasay finished back in 2:33:51. 

– Out in California, Sound Running hosted The Track Meet to help athletes achieve the Olympic standard now that the qualifying window has re-opened. On the first night, Shelby Houlihan won the women’s 5,000 meters in 15:02.55 with Elise Cranny right behind her in 15:04.88 to take care of Bowerman Track Club’s business trip. Their 14:23 and 14:48 performances from this summer at the Bowerman intra-squad meets didn’t count since the window was not open at the time. Major kudos to fourth-place finisher and ‘More Than Running’ podcast host Dana Giordano on dropping her PR from 15:53 to 15:18 to nab her Olympic Trials standard. If you’ve followed Dana through her work for CITIUS, you know her main goal was to qualify for Eugene but now she’s got her spot there and there’s more work to be done. 

A post shared by DANA GIORDANO (@dana_gio)

In the men’s 5,000m race, Luis Grivalja dropped a 57-second final lap to beat Oregon’s Cooper Teare and Tinman Elite’s Drew Hunter. (In the B-heat, Matt Centrowitz returned to racing for the first time since February and outkicked Cole Hocker to win in 13:32.92). On Day 2, Rachel Schneider won the women’s 10,000m in 31:09 and Eric Jenkins took the men’s race in 27:22. You can rewatch all of the races on USATF.TV+

– Two-time NCAA champion Weini Kelati signed a professional contract with Under Armour and has joined the Dark Sky Distance group in Flagstaff, Arizona. She will be coached by Stephen Haas and Shayla Houlihan. She made her professional debut at The Track Meet by Sound Running and ran 31:10.08 for 10,000 meters, which would be an Eritrean national record for the 24-year-old. I touched base with Haas on Tuesday afternoon asking about her plans for 2021 and he said to me that her hope is to become a U.S. citizen and compete at the Olympic Trials next summer. He mentioned the process has been underway for a while. She is currently on a green card. She arrived in the United States in July 2014 to compete at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Ore. She missed the team flight home and then sought asylum with a relative in Virginia.

– New York Road Runners announced President and CEO Michael Capiraso will depart on December 31. An external search for the new CEO is underway. Last month, Runner’s World’s Sarah Lorge Butler reported on some of the concerns and complaints raised by staff.

– NYRR also announced the 2021 NYC Half has been canceled "due to health and safety concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.” There was no 2020 edition of the race. As a New Yorker, I’m not surprised by this move. Even something like the Brooklyn Half in May seems like it would be too quick of a return if the COVID-19 vaccine will only be reaching a majority of the population by the spring.

– Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson died at 86 years old. Here is the LA Times’ obituary on him.

– New York will have a new professional team as New Jersey-New York Track Club assistant coaches John Trautmann and Tommy Nohilly are starting a new professional group called the Empire Elite Track Club. Frank Gagliano, known to many as “Gags”, intends to continue coaching.

– USATF announced 2016 Olympian Gwen Berry has been named the 2020 Humanitarian Award recipient “for her continued activism bringing awareness to and educating others on issues of social justice.”

– Pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis and World Indoor Triple Jump record holder Yulimar Rojas were named the World Athletes of the Year. Dr. Tommie Smith, Mr. Peter Norman and Dr. John Carlos were awarded the President’s Award by World Athletics.

– Efforts to reinstate Clemson’s men’s track and field team escalated with the #SaveClemsonXCTF group releasing a video calling the decision to do so as ‘racist.’ I wrote something short about it for Sports Illustrated. 60 Minutes covered how athletic departments are cutting non-revenue generating sports and citing the global pandemic as a reason why.

– World Athletics announced a few specifics for the 2022 calendar. The World Cross Country Championships will be held on Feb. 19, 2022 in Bathurst, Australia (originally March 2021). The World Indoor Championships are now scheduled for March 18-20 in Belgrade, Serbia (Originally March 11-13, 2022). Diamond League meets will be two hours long.

– The International Olympic Committee announced Breaking (the formal name for breakdancing) will be included at the 2024 Olympics but cross country will not be added. The 50K racewalk has also been dropped. (

– You thought that we were done talking about shoe technology? Buried within so much of the news coming out of World Athletics this past week was the announcement that athletes will be allowed to compete in prototype shoes again! Protos will have 12 months to be put into use before they need to be sold to the masses. You can read through the whole announcement here.

– Remember all the uproar about the Diamond League cutting events? They’ve reversed course on that decision and announced the triple jump, discus, 200 meters, steeplechase and 5,000 meters have been reinstated within the 32 events that will be contested next year.

– Tianna Bartoletta is coming out with a book in 2021. You can subscribe to her newsletter for updates on its progress.

– The typically clean-shaven Evan Jager went through with No-Shave November in an effort to raise money for Movember. He raised more than $4,000 for the organization working to raise awareness of men's health issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide.

– Kilian Jornet attempted to break Yiannis Kouros’ 1997 record of 303.506 kilometers (188.58 miles) in the 24-hour run. He dropped out due to injury nearly 10 and a half hours into the run. He covered about 134.8 kilometers (83ish miles or 337 or so laps on the track).

– Noah and Josephus Lyles have started the Lyles Brothers Sports Foundation “to empower youth through the advancement of health & wellness in the community.  We provide financial support and motivation by collaborating with local communities.” You can learn more at lylesfoundation.org

– Hartbeat Track Club’s Max Aronow lowered the world record for the fastest mile while dribbling a basketball to a reported 4:30.38.

– How I spent my Friday morning last week: I got up at 4:30 a.m. and then met my friend Jenny Grimshaw (née Donnelly) at 6 a.m. as she decided to attempt to run the perimeter of Manhattan in under four hours. I was on bike escort duties handling water, gels, drinks, music and overall good vibes. The previous “fastest known time” by a woman was four hours and nine minutes. The distance could be anywhere from about 30 miles to 32 miles. Previous Runners of NYC Podcast guest David Kilgore set the FKT of three hours, 43 minutes and 32 seconds over the summer during a six-hour run of his. (Listen to the podcast for his backstory and you’ll get some understanding of his wild ways.) 

It was a lot of fun for me to practice my standup routine and tell stories while Jenny did the difficult part. We also had friends Alana Kopelson, Grace Bowen and Cara Enright run alongside her for portions of it. (Grace ended up running 20 miles on the day.) Jenny split 3:10 for the marathon and then still managed to find a way to close the last 10K with some speed in her legs. As you can see from her Strava upload, she finished in 3 hours, 56 minutes and four seconds. Fastest Known Time made it official on Monday! 

Kilgore’s FKT is on watch now. My Brooklyn Track Club teammate Dennis Serna will be taking a crack at it on Dec. 20. He is also trying to raise $50,000 for the Council of People’s Organization, which aims to “assist low-income immigrant families, particularly South Asians and Muslims, to reach their full potential as residents of New York City." You can read more about his decision to go for this on his Instagram page.


MORE FROM THE CITIUS MAG PODCAST NETWORK

“I feel like I’ve been so blessed in the sense that there are things you truly love and things that you’re good at. In the Venn diagram of those things, the one thing that I truly love more than anything and the one thing that I just happen to be good at is the same thing. I’m so lucky to have that because I feel like that’s fairly rare in life to get those sorts of things.”

One of my favorite episodes yet! Episode No. 200 with Molly Seidel!

Click here to read and listen to more of my conversation with Molly. You can catch the latest episode of the podcast on Apple Podcasts and iTunes so subscribe and leave a five-star review. We are also on Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify!

A quick note on hitting No. 200! Whether you just stumbled across the show for the first time or if you’ve been with us from the start in 2017, when I started this podcast I didn’t think it would get to what it’s become. I truly enjoy having these conversations with interesting people within the running community and bringing them to you while you run, while you work, while you commute and more. Even though we are faced with a pandemic, this has been the biggest year for the podcast. It’s been the most episodes, most listens and whether it’s because you use this as motivation, entertainment or distraction in these tough times, thank you for sticking with me and the show.

If you’re interested in supporting the podcast and the time that I put into this show or producing all the other shows on the CITIUS MAG Podcast Network, I’ve included the link to our Patreon page where you can maybe toss a dollar or two that will help me keep going. If you want to sponsor the show in 2021, feel free to respond to this email. I don’t want to stop doing these.

It’s been a medium for storytelling that I really have grown to love. Here’s to 200 more...at least.


That’s it from me in the latest edition of the CITIUS MAG Newsletter. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, learned something new or have any questions or commentary on anything featured in this issue, feel free to hit my inbox: chris@citiusmag.com

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