Marathon World Record Holder Dead at 24 After Car Crash
Marathon runner Kelvin Kiptum, the current world record holder and a rising star in the sport, died in a car crash alongside his coach in Eldoret, in Kenya’s Rift Valley. CNN confirmed the tragic news.
Kiptum was shuttling his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, and a third unidentified passenger in his Toyota Premio when the crash occurred just after 11 p.m. local time on Sunday. The third occupant survived the accident, but sustained serious injuries.
“[Kiptum] lost control, veered off the road, entered into a ditch 60 meters away and hit a big tree,” Elgeyo Marakwet County Police Commander Peter Mulinge told the outlet. Images of the crash site circulated on social media show the shredded remains of Kiptum’s car, it’s roof nearly sheared off.
Marathon world record-holder Kelvin Kiptum, who was set to be a superstar of long-distance running and was a top contender for gold at the Olympics in Paris this year, was killed along with his coach in a car crash in Kenya.
— Jamaica Gleaner (@JamaicaGleaner) February 12, 2024
Kiptum just set the world record in October 2023 for his performance in the Chicago Marathon, which he finished in two hours and 35 seconds. It was ratified only last week. He bested fellow Kenyan and previous record holder Eliud Kipchoge, widely thought the be one of the greatest runners of all time, by 50 seconds.
It was almost certain that Kiptum would rival Kipchoge for GOAT status. He was poised to be only the second human being (after Kipchoge) to complete a marathon in under two hours. He was similarly a favorite to win the Olympic marathon.
Fans and fellow athletes paid tribute to Kiptum on social media, including fellow long-distance runner Mo Farrah. “Kelvin was an amazingly talented athlete and had already achieved so much,” Farrah wrote. “He truly had a special talent and I have no doubt he would have gone on to have had an incredible career.”
I’m so sad to hear the passing of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana. Kelvin was an amazingly talented athlete and had already achieved so much. He truly had a special talent and I have no doubt he would have gone on to have had an incredible career. I send all my… pic.twitter.com/bNXJA1FgBL
— Sir Mo Farah (@Mo_Farah) February 12, 2024
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe in a statement. “On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates, and the Kenyan nation. It was only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, that I was able to officially ratify his historic time.”
Kiptum’s loss would be felt in Chicago, said Carey Pinkowski, Executive Race Director, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, where he made history in 2023.
“Kelvin was a once-in-a-generation athlete at the front of his career,” Carey Pinkowski, Executive Race Director of the Chicago Marathon, said. “While he will be celebrated for his record-breaking performances, I will remember him as an incredible talent and as an even more magnificent person. We were lucky to witness his greatness on the streets of Chicago. The sport of marathon running has suffered a tragic loss.”