In a heart-breaking turn of events, the running community mourns the loss of Kelvin Kiptum, the 24-year-old Kenyan marathon sensation, whose untimely death has been confirmed by his family. The tragic incident unfolded in a fatal traffic accident on the Eldoret-Kaptagat road in Kenya, claiming not only Kiptum’s life but also that of his coach, Rwanda’s Gervais Hakizimana.

Kelvin Kiptum at Chicago Marathon
Image: Patrick Gorski/USA Today/Reuters

Kiptum’s remarkable ascent to glory reached its zenith in 2023 when he shattered the world record held by Eliud Kipchoge at the Chicago Marathon, completing the race in a remarkable 2:00:35, surpassing Kipchoge’s previous record of 2:01:09. The official recognition of Kiptum’s accomplishment by World Athletics came merely five days ago.

Having showcased his dominance in 2022 and 2023 with two hours and one minute marathon timings, Kiptum received the prestigious World Athletics’ Male World Athlete of the Year award two months before his tragic end, underlining his global impact in the sport.

The highly anticipated Paris Olympics, where Kiptum and Kipchoge were poised for a historic showdown as the two preeminent marathon runners, is now overshadowed by this unexpected tragedy.

Hailing from Kenya’s Keiyo District in 1999, Kiptum was on the verge of becoming the first athlete to officially break the elusive two-hour mark in the marathon. News of his passing has elicited poignant responses from figures across the running landscape.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 23: Kelvin Kiptum of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Elite Men’s Marathon during the 2023 TCS London Marathon on April 23, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga expressed his deep sorrow, describing Kiptum as a “remarkable individual” associated with Nike. Gideon Kimaiyo, a Kenyan member of parliament, lamented the loss, highlighting that Kiptum was in the prime of his career, a true legend in his own right.

Esteemed American running coach and author Steve Magness conveyed his shock and sorrow, characterizing Kiptum as a world record holder in the prime of his career, making his untimely departure an absolute tragedy.

The running community grieves the loss of Kelvin Kiptum, a prodigious talent whose promising career was abruptly halted, leaving an enduring impact on the sport.