How crash ended Kiptum's promising career

Kelvin Kiptum (left) died on Sunday along the Eldoret-Ravine highway following a tragic road crash. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The wreckage of a blue car, involved in a road accident that claimed the life of marathon star Kelvin Kiptum, told a tale of a horror road crash.

Kiptum, the men’s marathon World Record holder, was full of promises even during his last moments.

Kiptum died on the spot along the Eldoret-Ravine highway following the tragic road crash that also claimed the life of his coach, Rwandan Gervais Hazimana on Sunday night.

A woman in the company of the athlete and his coach during the time of the accident, was treated at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) Eldoret and discharged on Monday.

Bodies of Kiptum and Hakizimana lay outside the mangled car, while the woman, trapped inside, was crying for help, according to a witness Kenneth Kimayo.

"Seven of us rushed from Chepkorio to the scene after we received calls, and we found the coach still breathing but died a few minutes before an ambulance arrived. Kiptum was no more. We arrived at the scene at 11:20pm," Kimaiyo said.

MTRH acting CEO Philip Kirwa said the 24-year-old woman identified as Sharon Kosgei sustained a wound on her face and some minor soft tissue injuries.

“She was in stable condition. She sustained soft tissue injuries and was treated by our doctors. She has now been discharged and is recuperating at home,” Kirwa said.

The world had turned its sights on the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast when news of the tragic accident broke, causing shock among sports enthusiasts.

The accident happened at Flax junction in Kaptagat after Kiptum’s car veered off the road and hit a huge tree.

Authorities said preliminary investigations indicated that the athlete lost control of his vehicle.

According to Elgeyo Marakwet County police, the Chicago Marathon champion was driving back to his training base in Chepkorio from Eldoret when his Toyota Premio got involved in the accident.

Mourners at Kelvin Kiptum's house at Chepsamo village in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet County. [Peter Ochieng, Standard] 

Keiyo South Sub-County police commander Abdullahi Dahir confirmed the deaths.

Dahir said the cause of the accident that killed the world's fastest marathoner could not be immediately established.

He said Kiptum and his coach died on the spot, as a result of the impact.

"We received a report that an accident had occurred at 11:17pm at the junction to Flax area along Eldoret-Ravine road. The area is at times foggy and many cows are on the road at night," said Dahir. 

The police commander continued: "Upon arrival, the police established that world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana were dead.

"A woman, Sharon Kosgei who was in the back seat sustained injuries and is receiving treatment in Eldoret," Dahir said.

The police took Kiptum's body and that of his coach to the Racecourse Hospital morgue. The athlete’s remains were on Monday transferred to the Eldoret Hospital.

"It is sad that the country has lost an athlete of Kiptum's stature," Dahir said, adding that investigations into the exact cause of the crash are ongoing.

Frederick Mutai, a public service driver who was among the first people to arrive at the scene said he heard the injured woman crying.

"I called the police who arrived a few minutes later. We rushed the injured woman for treatment," Mutai said.

The accident ended Kiptum's meteoric rise to stardom.

Before then, Kiptum had won Kass half marathon in 2019 but had not taken part in international races.

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba (centre) with Asenette Kiptum, the wife of the late Kelvin Kiptum, at her home in Chepsamo village, Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet. Right, AK President Jackson Tuwei. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

According to relatives, Kiptum did not proceed to secondary school, choosing to train as an artisan electrician before training in Kaptagat forest without a coach while herding his father’s cows.

He started off his journey to marathon stardom by winning the Valencia Marathon in December 2022.

He went ahead to win the 2023 London Marathon in a course record before shattering the world record at the Chicago Marathon in October.

Last October, Kelvin Kiptum, a 24-year-old athlete from Chepsamo village in Elgeyo Marakwet ran 2:00:35 shaving 34 seconds off the previous mark set by Eliud Kipchoge, who is the second fastest of all time in the marathon.

He stunned the world with the fastest mark at the Chicago Marathon on October 8, further raising eyebrows.

A battle between Kiptum and Kipchoge at the 2024 Paris Olympic Marathon in August is a clash that the world was yearning to watch, this year.

In December, he was named the World Athlete of the Year 2023 in the long-distance category.

He has left a widow Asenette Kiptum and children Kigen, 4, and Cherop, 7.