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.
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.”