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

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

Kiptum was driving his Toyota Premio in western Kenya, not far from his childhood village, when he veered off the road and hit a tree about 11 p.m. Saturday, Elgeyo-Marakwet County Police Cmdr. Peter Mulinge said.

Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, 37, were both killed in the accident, and a 24-year-old woman identified as Sharon Kosgey suffered serious injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital, he said. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

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

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

Nahashon Kibon, a retired runner and professional coach in Kenya, told The Washington Post that he had trained with Kiptum earlier in the day on Saturday, hours before the late-night crash.

“I will remember him as a great man. He was very jovial. We laughed, we talked — he was a very good guy,” he said. “He was still young. It’s sad that we lost him.”

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

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

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

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Kiptum in April was slated to run the 2024 Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands 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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