Men’s marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum died alongside his coach after a car accident in his home country of Kenya on Sunday, officials confirmed. Kiptum was 24.
Exact details of the fatal incident were unclear. According to international track federation World Athletics, Kiptum was killed alongside his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, near the city of Eldoret, the fifth-largest city in Kenya.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” Seb Coe, president of World Athletics, wrote in a statement posted to X.
“On behalf of all World Athletics we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation. It was only 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 leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.”
According to Kenyan runner Milcah Chemos, the incident occurred at approximately 11 p.m. in a high-altitude area known as a training base for long-distance runners.
Kiptum immediately drew attention to himself after his marathon debut in Venice in 2022, which he won. He followed by winning in Chicago–the effort which broke the world record with a time of 2:00:35—and in the London Marathon, setting a new course record of 2:01:25.
The London Marathon posted on X that it was “shocked and deeply saddened to hear the terrible news.”
World Athletics described him as “one of the most exciting new prospects to emerge in road running in recent years.”
Kiptum had not raced since Chicago’s 2023 Marathon, but was due in April to compete at the Rotterdam Marathon, where, according to World Athletics, “he was hoping to become the first man to break two hours for the marathon on a record-eligible course.”
Kenya’s former prime minister and current opposition leader, Raila Odinga, posted on X: “Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”
Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, World Record holder and Kenyan athletics icon. Together with his coach, they tragically passed on in an accident tonight. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/1Dmgyyhsk4
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) February 11, 2024