Kelvin Kiptum, 24-year-old marathon world-record holder, dies in car crash

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Kelvin Kiptum, the Kenyan runner who held the marathon world record set last year in Chicago, died Sunday night in a car crash in Kenya. He was 24.

World Athletics issued a release Sunday night confirming his death.

“An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe in a statement.

Nation Africa reported Kiptum was driving a Toyota Premio in the accident that also killed his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana, according to Elgeyo Marakwet Police Commander Peter Mulinge. The accident occurred at 11 p.m. (local time) Sunday.

Mulinge told the news outlet that Kiptum lost control of the vehicle, veered off the road and hit a tree. Kiptum and Hakizimana died at the scene and another passenger was taken to a hospital.

Kenyan runner Milcah Chemos confirmed Kiptum’s death to the Associated Press, saying she had gone to the hospital in Eldoret after hearing news of the crash. Chemos said the crash occurred between the towns of Eldoret and Kaptagat in western Kenya.  

Kiptum ran a blistering Chicago Marathon in 2 hours, 35 seconds on October 8, 2023, knocking 34 seconds off the world record. He won the 26.2-mile race by almost three and a half minutes, dropping his compatriot Daniel Mateiko after the 30-kilometer mark. It was just the third marathon of his career.

In April 2023, he won the London Marathon in 2:01:25, which at the time was the second-fastest marathon in the record books and a course record.

Kiptum started running at age 13 and followed local marathon runners on the trails and roads. In 2018, at age 18 he won the Eldoret Half Marathon and made his international debut the following year, running 59:54 to finish fifth at the Lisbon Half Marathon.

His marathon debut came in Valencia in 2022, where he broke away after 30K and finished in a course-record time of 2:01:53, the fastest debut in history. At the time, only Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele had run faster marathons.

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