Kelvin Kiptum, marathon world record holder, dies in a car accident in Kenya

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Kelvin Kiptum, the Kenyan marathon world record holder who was on his way to becoming the first person to run the race in under two hours, died in a car accident on Sunday. He was 24.

Kiptum was driving his Toyota Premio in western Kenya, near his childhood village, when he veered off the road and hit a tree at about 11pm on Saturday, said Elgeyo-Marakwet County police chief Peter Mulinge.

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

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

Kelvin Kiptum is almost breaking the two-hour barrier with the world marathon record

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

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

Raila Odinga, a former prime minister of Kenya and a prominent opposition leader in the country, called Kiptum “a great person” and “an icon of Kenyan Athletics.”

“Our country mourns the great loss of a true hero,” he said on social media.

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Kiptum was slated to run the 2024 Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands this April, and had said he was aiming to run the race in under two hours. He also had his eye on the Olympics in Paris this summer.

“I 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. Yes I think I will always try to push my limit.”

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