Monday, March 4, 2024

Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum dies in car crash at 24

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Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon world record holder from Kenya who was on track to be the first person to ever run the race in under two hours, died in a car accident Sunday, according to the international sports governing organization World Athletics. He was 24.

Kiptum was traveling in a car not far from his childhood village of Chepsamo in western Kenya when the accident occurred, the organization said. His coach, Gervais Hakizimana, was also killed. Local media have reported that Kiptum was driving when he lost control of the car and veered off the road, and that a third person in the vehicle had serious injuries.

Kiptum made international headlines in October when he won the Chicago marathon in 2 hours and 35 seconds, making him the first man to run an official race in under 2 hours and 1 minute, and overtaking fellow Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge’s record. A year prior, Kiptum had never even run a marathon race.

“I didn’t know I’d be a great marathon runner,” he told a reporter after his Chicago victory, quietly describing his skill as something that came naturally.

David Rudisha, a two-time Olympic champion runner for Kenya in the 800-meter race, wrote on X that he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by Kiptum and Hakizimana’s deaths. “This is a huge loss,” he said.

Raila Odinga, the former prime minister of Kenya and a prominent opposition leader in the country, called Kiptum a “remarkable individual” and “Kenyan Athletics icon.”

“Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero,” he said on social media.

What happens when runners cross a marathon finish line? We’ve got data.

Kiptum was slated to run the 2024 Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands this April, and had said he was aiming to run the race in under two hours. He also had his eye on the Paris Olympics this summer.

“I have just started my training, and I hope to go there and do my best,” he told World Athletics in an interview published in December. “Maybe to beat my time. I think I try each time to push my limit.”

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