A week after officials ratified his landmark record, Kenyan runner Kelvin Kiptum has died in a car accident. The 24-year-old was driving in southwest Kenya on Sunday evening when he lost control of the vehicle, according to local news reports. His coach, Gervais Hakizimana, also died in the crash, while a third person was reported injured and taken to a hospital.
In 2023, Kiptum established himself as one of running’s best young athletes, winning the London Marathon in April and then setting a new world record in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. He finished the entire 26.2-mile distance in 2 hours, 35 seconds, shaving 34 seconds off the record held by Eliod Kipchoge.
Kiptum’s record was officially ratified by World Athletics last week.
Fans Mourn Kelvin Kiptum Death
Now, people from around the world have begun paying tribute to an athlete who left a huge impression among fans, fellow athletes, and even dignitaries.
He was “one of the most exciting new prospects to emerge in road running in recent years,” World Athletics wrote in an obituary on Sunday. Kiptum made his official marathon debut in December 2022, clocking 2:01:53 to win in Valencia. In his third marathon less than a year later, Kiptum surprised again with his stunning performance in Chicago.
Born and raised in Chepsamo village in Chepkorio, Kenya, Kiptum grew up working on his family’s cattle farm. He began running at 13, following local marathon runners on the local trails and roads, according to the obituary.
After his win in Chicago, Kiptum had announced plans to break the 2-hour barrier in a marathon.
Now, his family is struggling with how to handle his tragic death. Interviewed by Kenya’s Citizen TV, Kiptum’s father, Samson Cheruiyot, said he had lost his only child.
“I don’t know what to say, I see his children will be looking to me and my child is gone,” Cheruiyot said, according to the BBC. “Now, who will help us raise his kids?”
Kiptum’s body has been taken to a hospital in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret. Locals have begun to gather outside in tribute, according to the BBC.