ELDORET, Kenya (AP) — The world of long-distance running suffered a great loss on Sunday with the tragic death of marathon world record-holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, in a car crash. Kiptum, at just 24 years old, was known for setting the world record in the Chicago Marathon last year, which was officially ratified by international track federation World Athletics only a week prior to his untimely death. He was poised to be a major contender for the marathon at the Paris Olympics in August and was considered one of the most promising prospects in road running.
According to fellow Kenyan athlete Milcah Chemos, Kiptum and his coach were involved in a fatal car accident at around 11 p.m. on a road between the towns of Eldoret and Kaptagat in western Kenya. The area is renowned as a training base for elite distance runners, and Kiptum, who was born and raised there, was an integral part of the running community in the region.
Chemos, who was present at the hospital mortuary where the bodies were taken, spoke through tears as she struggled to find words to convey the immense loss of Kiptum. His impact on the running world was significant, as he became the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours, 1 minute, setting a world record time of 2:00:35 in Chicago last October, surpassing the previous mark set by fellow Kenyan marathon great Eliud Kipchoge.
The crash, which involved only Kiptum’s car, resulted in the tragic deaths of both Kiptum and his coach, as well as serious injuries sustained by a third passenger, a woman. The news of their deaths was met with grief and condolences from the Kenyan track federation, fellow athletes, and World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.
Kiptum’s astounding athletic ability was evident in his swift rise to success, earning him victories in the London and Chicago marathons, two of the most prestigious races in the world. The road accident that claimed his life is a stark reminder of the tragic history of top Kenyan runners losing their lives in similar events. Despite the significant loss to the running community, Kiptum’s impact will not soon be forgotten, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy in the sport.