|Kelvin Kiptum Cheruiyot
|11 February 2024 (aged 24)
Kelvin Kiptum Cheruiyot (2 December 1999 – 11 February 2024) was a Kenyan long-distance runner and the marathon world record holder at the time of his death. He is the only person in history to run the marathon in less than two hours and one minute in a record-eligible race. He ran three of the seven fastest marathons in history.
Kiptum won the three marathons he participated in, all renowned, including two top-tier World Marathon Majors (WMM), and held between December 2022 and October 2023. The times he achieved are three of the seven fastest times in history, a course record of less than 2:02 in each case, making him the only person ever to break this barrier thrice.
Kiptum ran the fastest-ever marathon debut at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, becoming only the third man in history to break two hours and two minutes and setting the then fourth-quickest time ever. He followed it up four months later with the second-fastest marathon in history at 2:01:25, 16 seconds outside the world record, at the 2023 London Marathon (WMM). In his next race, the 2023 Chicago Marathon (WMM) six months later in October 2023, he broke the world record by 34 seconds with a time of 2:00:35.
Kiptum died in a car crash in February 2024. At the time of his death, he was ranked first in the world in the men’s marathon rankings.
Kelvin Kiptum Biography
Kelvin Kiptum Cheruiyot
|2 December 1999
Chepsamo, Chepkorio, Kenya
|11 February 2024 (aged 24
|1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
|65 kg (143 lb)
Table of Contents
Kelvin Kiptum was born on 2 December 1999. He grew up in Chepsamo village, Chepkorio—the high-altitude (~2600 m) area in Elgeyo-Marakwet County of Kenya’s Rift Valley. It is located some 30 km east of Eldoret, on the southeastern border of the Kaptagat forest, and just near the edge of the meridional Elgeyo (Keiyo) escarpment to the east, which rapidly gives way to the lower Kerio Valley (800–1,200 m). Together with nearby counties of Kenya, the region is known as the birthplace of many renowned Kenyan runners and also as a mecca for foreign runners. As a young boy, he herded his family’s cattle and began following other barefoot runners along the forest trails. Kiptum started training around 2013, when he was 13 years old.
In 2013, at the age of 13, Kiptum participated in his first half marathon, the Family Bank Eldoret Half Marathon in his native Kenya, finishing 10th; he placed 12th the following year. In 2018, the teenager took his first victory, winning this race with a time of 62:01. He was self-coached at the time. Kiptum then debuted on the international stage at the Lisbon Half Marathon, Portugal, in March 2019, finishing fifth with a new personal best of 59:54. He participated also in six other races that year touring north and west Europe, and winning the tough Kass Half Marathon back home in November. It was reported that in 2020 Kiptum had started working with Rwandan 3000 metres steeplechase record holder Gervais Hakizimana as a coach, although Kiptum supposedly had periodically trained alongside other youths with him since 2013. Since about 2020, he was already preparing for the marathon. In December of that year, the then-21-year-old set a significant personal best in the Spanish Valencia Half Marathon marathon at 58:42, placing sixth. In 2021, he ran 59:35 and 59:02 half marathons in Lens, France (placing first) and Valencia again (placing eighth), respectively.
2022: Third man ever to break 2:02 in the marathon
In December, 23-year-old Kiptum pulled off an upset when debuting in the classic 42.195 km distance at the Valencia Marathon. Running with a negative split, he took the victory with the fourth-fastest time ever of 2:01:53, becoming the third man in history to break two hours and two minutes. Only his compatriot and then-world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele had run faster up to that point. Kiptum set the quickest second half in marathon history with a time of 60:15 (including 14:00 from 30-35k and 28:05 between 30-40k). His winning time was by far the fastest marathon debut in history, smashing the course record by over a minute. He also beat the runner-up by more than a minute and the 2022 world marathon champion Tamirat Tola, the pre-race favourite, among others.
2023: World record
At the London Marathon in April 2023, Kiptum triumphed decisively in rainy conditions with the second-fastest mark in history at 2:01:25, a course record which was only 16 seconds outside the world record. He beat second-place compatriot Geoffrey Kamworor, who came from the same village, by nearly three minutes and Eliud Kipchoge’s course record by more than a minute.
On 8 October 2023, Kiptum set a new world record with a time of 2 hours and 35 seconds – 34 seconds faster than the previous record set by Kipchoge at the 2022 Berlin Marathon and three minutes faster than the course record.
Following Kiptum’s record-breaking performance in October 2023, his coach provided insight on the athlete’s training regimen. Gervais Hakizimana stated that Kiptum logged 250 to 280 km (155–173 mi) per week in the lead-up to that year’s London Marathon in April. His routine regularly featured daily morning runs spanning 25–28 km, track or fartlek workouts on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and intense long runs of 30–40 km at close to marathon pace on Thursdays and Sundays. He trained alternately in the high-altitude areas of Chepkorio and the nearby Kerio Valley (800–1,200 m) before the Chicago Marathon.
At 11:00 pm local time on 11 February 2024, Kiptum was killed in a road traffic accident between Chepkorio and Eldoret, Kenya, in which his coach Gervais Hakizimana also died. Local police stated that Kiptum lost control of his vehicle and veered off the road, before entering a ditch and colliding with a tree.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe remarked: “On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, team mates 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.”
Former marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge said: “I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of the Marathon World record holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum. 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 this trying time.”
Kenyan President William Ruto stated: “Kelvin Kiptum was a star. Arguably one of the world’s finest sportsmen who broke barriers to secure a marathon record.”
|4 May 2021
|6 October 2019
|6 December 2020
|Chicago, United States
|8 October 2023
|Elite Platinum marathon
|PB CR, 4th performance all time (WR 44 s+)
|London, United Kingdom
|World Marathon Majors
|PB CR, 2nd performance all time (WR 16 s+)
|Chicago, United States
|PB CR WR (previous WR 34 s-)
World Marathon Majors Series timeline
|World Marathon Majors
|New York City Marathon