Kenyan long-distance runner Kelvin Kiptum tragically died at the age of 24 after a car accident, just five days after World Athletics ratified his stunning marathon world record.
Kiptum had achieved an astonishing time of 2 hours and 35 seconds at the Chicago Marathon in October.
Covering the marathon distance for the third time, Kiptum beat the previous record of his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge by 34 seconds.
Kipchoge, a two-time Olympic champion, had set the previous mark of 2:01:09 in the 2022 Berlin Marathon.
Kiptum had improved his personal best by 50 seconds to break the world record in Chicago, one of several statistics that highlight the then-23-year-old’s remarkable performance.
Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum died after crashing into a tree on Sunday
Kiptum made history last October when he clocked 2:00.35 to win the Chicago Marathon.
World Athletics ratified Kiptum’s astonishing world record last week, five days before his death.
Kelvin Kiptum’s world record splits (Source: Olympics.com)
Kiptum had produced an average pace of 14 minutes and 17.3 seconds per five kilometers during the race or 4:36 per mile.
The Kenyan had achieved world record pace after 10km of running, after passing the first two 5km legs in 14.26 and 14.16.
He was initially joined by seven other runners, and Kiptum reached the half marathon mark in a time of 1:00.48.
Kiptum then continued his trend of producing a negative split in the marathon: he ran the second half faster than the first.
He pulled away from compatriot Daniel Mateiko to go solo after 30km, before putting in the fastest run of the race.
Kiptum ran a 13:51 5K time to reach the 35K checkpoint, running 39 seconds faster than Kipchoge in his record run at the same stage of the race.
The split set Kiptum up for the world record of 2:00:35.
Kiptum’s time meant the Kenyan averaged 2:51 per kilometre, covering each 100 meters of the race in just over 17 seconds.
His astonishing time further increased the possibility that a sub-two-hour marathon could be achieved under legal conditions.
Kipchoge had become the first man to break the two-hour barrier, achieving a time of 1:59:40 in the 2019 Ineos 1:59 challenge.
Kiptum averaged two minutes 51 seconds per kilometer during his victory in the Chicago Marathon.
The Kenyan star raised the possibility of achieving a time of less than two hours under legal conditions
Kiptum shaved 34 seconds off the previous record in just the third marathon of his career.
Kiptum hoped to be the first man to break the two-hour barrier in a marathon in Rotterdam in April.
The Kenyan great had been fitted with rotary pacemakers in a controlled environment in Vienna, meaning the feat was not recognized as a world record by World Athletics.
Kiptum had won last year’s London Marathon with a time of 2:01:25, the third-fastest marathon of all time.
His debut marathon time of 2:01:53, set in Valencia back in 2022, is the seventh fastest in history.
Kiptum had announced his goal to further reduce the world record by competing in the Rotterdam marathon in April, before competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The runner died on Sunday at the age of 24 in his native Kenya, while his coach, Rwandan Gervais Hakizimana, 37, also died in the traffic accident near Kaptagat, an area in the southwest of the country known as base of training. for distance runners.
The news has rocked the athletics world, with World Athletics president Seb Coe leading tributes to Kiptum on Sunday night, saying he was “an incredible athlete who leaves an incredible legacy.”
Details of the accident have now been revealed, and a passenger, Sharon Chepkemoi, 32, survived the incident after being taken to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.
According to Kenneth Kimaiyo, one of the first responders at the crash site, via NationKiptum’s body was found under the vehicle with the runner already dead and Hakizimana still alive on a hill.
Kiptum is said to have lost control of his vehicle in the Kaptagat area along the Eldama-Eldoret ravine while returning from Eldoret in Uasin Gishu county.
Kenyan journalist Kipruto Lagat has posted on social media what he claims are photographs of the accident site.
Lagat shared two images of a tree and what appeared to be remains of a nearby vehicle.
Jackson Tuwei, president of Athletics Kenya, said the vehicle veered off the road into a ditch before hitting a large tree 60 meters from the main road.
He said the bodies were taken to hospital for an autopsy that will begin after the families have been informed and “all arrangements have been made.”
It added that the accident occurred at 20:00 GMT on Sunday, 23:00 local time, and that the vehicle suffered “serious damage” and was towed to a local police station for “inspection and further police measures.”
Elgeyo Marakwet county police commander in western Kenya, Peter Mulinge, confirmed that the two men who died “on the spot” were Kiptum and Hakizimana. with Coe leading the tributes to the 24-year-old.
Coe wrote on X: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.
‘On behalf of all of World Athletics we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the nation of Kenya.
‘It wasn’t until 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.
“An incredible athlete who leaves an incredible legacy, he will be greatly missed.”
World Athletics president Seb Coe led tributes to the 24-year-old on social media.
Former world record holder Kipchoge joined the tributes to Kiptum following his tragic death.
Former world record holder Kipchoge, who would have likely fought Kiptum for Olympic gold in Paris 2024, joined the tributes.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of world marathon record holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum,” Kipchoge wrote in X.
‘An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness.
‘I offer my deepest condolences to his young family. May God comfort you during his difficult time.’