24 and Gone
February 12, 2024 2:27 AM   Subscribe

Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum has died at 24. He and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana died in a car crash. Kiptum had only run three marathons, 2:01:53 in Valencia in 2022, 2:01:25 in London in April 2023, and 2:00:35 WR in Chicago in October 2023.
posted by Literaryhero (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

A truly shocking and tragic loss for his family, freinds, and the entire running community. Almost unreal to hear this.

I can't think of any other world record holding athlete who died this soon after setting their record. Kiptum only started running marathons two years ago and gained the world record in his third ever race. That's it. That's his entire marathon career. Needless to say, for most of us simply finishing a marathon is hard enough, winning one is a totally different level.

We will never know now, but Kiptum was undoubtedly gearing up to break one of the greatest remaining barriers in running, the 2 hour marathon. Eliud Kipchoge, the previous world record holder and probably the greatest marathoner in history, had done it, but not in an official race. By comparison, most people would consider running a half marathon in 2 hours to be a good result. That's how superhuman people like Kiptum and Kipchoge are.

This will be one of the most tragic stories in the entire history of distance running.
posted by fortitude25 at 3:02 AM on February 12 [23 favorites]

Oh no... that is like a textbook definition of tragic.
posted by chavenet at 3:03 AM on February 12

I was shocked to see this. He was so young. Marathon runners tend to peak anywhere from 25 to 35 and I don't think we'd even begun to see what he would have been capable of. Even for an elite marathoner his training was extraordinary, running up to 300km per week. RIP.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:18 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Oh, wow. He was incredible. As TheophileEscargot points out so much younger the age where most marathoners peak and had so many more miles to go. I fully expected him to be the first runner to break 2 hours on an official course. Absolutely tragic.

posted by synecdoche at 3:45 AM on February 12

I'm still having a hard time absorbing this news. It seems like it can't be possible.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:09 AM on February 12

Heartbreaking 💔
posted by ellieBOA at 4:21 AM on February 12

Just so sad. It's not fair.
posted by obfuscation at 4:58 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

posted by lalochezia at 5:02 AM on February 12

Such a tragedy.
posted by TheKaijuCommuter at 5:05 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

As fortitude25 stated to aptly in the free weekly thread: If any of us run a half marathon in 2 hours you should consider it a job well done. This guy was covering 42.2km in that time - most people would probably struggle to bicycle 42.2 km in 2 hours.

That brought it home, indeed - I am elated if I can get 20km/h on my bike for more than a few minutes . . .

Incredible. The two will be remembered.
posted by nostrada at 5:41 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

"...Twenty-four and there's so much more..." (Neil)


To think too that he only ran 3 more marathons than me and was the WR holder.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:11 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


This is just horriblly ironic.

ESPN says he was thrown from the vehicle. Wear your seatbelts folks. Might not have made a difference in this case judging by the intrusion of the roof but always a good idea.
posted by Mitheral at 6:48 AM on February 12

posted by dlugoczaj at 7:13 AM on February 12

posted by mersen at 7:14 AM on February 12


(This is Steve Prefontaine redux.)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 7:37 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

posted by May Kasahara at 7:44 AM on February 12

posted by Songdog at 7:46 AM on February 12

posted by Halloween Jack at 8:30 AM on February 12


(also thank you for using the word "crash" to accurately describe what happened)
posted by knownassociate at 8:46 AM on February 12

posted by Kattullus at 9:43 AM on February 12

Wear your seatbelts folks.

Yes, for sure, but it's not clear that he wasn't wearing his seat belt. "Kiptum was lying under the car with his seat belt ripped and he was already dead."
posted by pracowity at 10:00 AM on February 12

posted by crocomancer at 10:55 AM on February 12

Not sure where this took place, apparently somewhere between Kaptagat and Eldoret. Overall the main roads are decently flat but driving on the highway in that area are among the most dangerous things I've experienced. Just one person's opinion but one member of the family I stayed with while in Kenya described the traffic fatality rates among the top five national disgraces of his country.
posted by midmarch snowman at 2:07 PM on February 12


I'm reminded of Prefontaine, who also died at 24 in a car crash. At that age, there's such a tremendous amount of time for distance runners to look forward to, especially in the marathon. Kipchoge, who set the previous record just a year ago, is 39 years old! Who knows what more Kiptum could have achieved. He just seemed destined to keep redefining conceptions of what is possible.

This is very sad.
posted by dsword at 2:52 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

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