KELVIN Kiptum, running legend, made incredible progress in his record-breaking athletics career before he died tragically aged just 24.
Kiptum, who began running competitively in 2018, ran his first race in borrowed running shoes when he couldn’t afford to buy his own.
SplashKelvin Kiptum was a record-breaking marathon runner[/caption]
ReutersThe aftermath of Kiptum’s horror crash on Sunday evening[/caption]
AFPKelvin Kiptum with his coach Rwandan Gervais Hakizimana – both men died in the crash[/caption]
AFPKiptum attends the international elite men’s press conference in London on April 20, 2023 ahead of the London marathon[/caption]
But just a few years later he had set an incredible Marathon record no one else has ever been able to achieve.
Kiptum competed in his first Marathon in Valencia, in 2022.
He became only the third man ever to break a record of two hours and two minutes, crossing the line in two hours and one minute, 53 seconds.
Just a year later he won the London Marathon in April after two hours, one minute and 25 seconds.
And that October in the Chicago Marathon he finished in a truly incredible two hours and 35 seconds – becoming the only person to ever hit it in under two hours and one minute.
He once told BBC Sport Africa: “It has been a long journey for me through my career.
“I have been trying so hard to pursue this dream to run a world record.
“It has come true and I am really happy. My life has now changed.”
Early in his career, Kiptum didn’t have the money to travel to track sessions, and had to start training on the road.
Most long distance runners train first during track sessions and work up to the road.
He said in an interview: “My training place is far from a track, so I started training with road-running guys – and that’s how I got into marathon.”
Kiptum also had to work hard to convince his family it was a career worth pursuing, before he ended up breaking international records.
The athlete began running with a half-marathon at age 13, but it would be years before he started working with his coach in 2020 and entered the international stage.
Horror car crash
Tragically just days ago the athlete was involved in a horror car crash in Kenya with his coach, Garvais Hakizimana.
Both men were killed, just days after Kiptum’s world-breaking records were ratified by World Athletics.
And the incredible runner was in the midst of training for the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14.
Kenya’s former prime minister Raila Odinga confirmed Kiptum had died on X, writing: “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.
“My deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity.
“Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”
London Marathon organisers added: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear the terrible news of the death of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.
“The thoughts of everyone at the TCS London Marathon are with Kelvin’s and Gervais’ family and friends.”
World Athletics president Seb Coe said: “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.”
Another passenger, a woman named as Sharon Kosgey, reportedly survived the crash and is in hospital with serious injuries.
Local police said the accident happened on Sunday evening after Kiptum lost control of the car and veered off the road before landing in a ditch.
Both men died instantly.
Kiptum’s coach Hakizimana also told the BBC about his amazing rise to success.
He said: “I knew him when he was a little boy, herding livestock barefooted.
“It was in 2009, I was training near his father’s farm, he’d come kicking at my heels and I would chase him away.
“Now, I am grateful to him for his achievement.”
Kiptum apparently needed lots of gentle coaching to come around to the idea of running a marathon – as he once feared it would be too difficult.
His coach said: “He had some fear and preferred the shorter half-marathon until 2022 when he finally agreed to a marathon.”
The Kenyan track star also had to convince his family about the career path he was considering – they wanted him to go to university.
Kiptum opened up about his relationship with his dad in an interview and said: “He wanted me to study to pursue my diploma to be an electrician but I was saying that I needed to be an athlete – I had that passion.
“That period was very hard for me because I trained for four years, yet there were no successes and they were disappointed in me. But I kept on pushing.”
But over the years his father warmed to the idea and ended up helping his son to keep up with training.
AFPKenya’s Kelvin Kiptum celebrates winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon[/caption]
AFPKiptum ran the Chicago race in a world record time of two hours and 35 seconds on October 8, 2023[/caption]