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Life and journey of fallen runner Kiptum

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024 03:50 | By
Family members and friends carry Kelvin Kiptum as they welcomed him back to the country after he shattered the marathon World Record in Chicago. PHOTO/ DAVID NDOLO
Family members and friends carry Kelvin Kiptum as they welcomed him back to the country after he shattered the marathon World Record in Chicago. PHOTO/ DAVID NDOLO

Born and raised in Chepsamo village in Chepkorio, 30km in the outskirts of Eldoret town in the Rift Valley, Kelvin Kiptum worked on his family’s cattle farm in his youth before he ventured into running at around the age of 13.

Kiptum would follow local marathon runners including Gervais Hakizimana who later turned out to be his coach, on the local trails and roads as they prepared for major races in Europe. Soon after, he entered his first half marathon - the Eldoret Half Marathon - where he was placed 10th overall but five
years later, in 2018 at the age of 18, he won the race.

While still a teenager, Kiptum made his international debut in 2019 and clocked 59:54 to finish fifth at the Lisbon Half Marathon. Before moving up to the classic distance, Kiptum reduced his half marathon personal best to 58:42 at the 2020 Valencia Half Marathon. Between 2019 and 2021, Kiptum broke 60 minutes for the half marathon on six occasions.

At the Valencia Marathon, Kiptum crossed the line in a course record of 2:01:53 - the fastest debut marathon in history and good enough for third place on the world all-time list behind distance legends Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.

At the 2023 London Marathon, Kiptum once again made a decisive move at 30km and covered the second half in 59:45 to win in a course record of 2:01:25. He adopted a similar approach at the Chicago Marathon just six months later, where he ran splits of 1:00:48 and 59:47 to cross the line in a world record of 2:00:35, taking 34 seconds off Kipchoge’s world record from 2022.

Since the Chicago race, he was yet to race again but he had been due to compete at the Rotterdam Marathon in April this year, where he was hoping to become the first man to break two hours for the marathon on a record-eligible course. Kiptum and Kipchoge were due to face off in Paris having been named in the Team Kenya for the Olympic Games in August.

Kiptum, a father of two, became the second-high profile Kenyan marathoner to die in the prime of his career. Samuel Wanjiru, who raced to the Olympic marathon record at the Beijing 2008 Games, died after falling from a balcony at his home in Nyahururu

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