Home » Bad day in office for Kenyans in ‘Kelvin Kiptum’s’ race at Rotterdam marathon

Bad day in office for Kenyans in ‘Kelvin Kiptum’s’ race at Rotterdam marathon

Martin Moses

updated at April 14, 2024 at 10:47 AM

  • Kelvin Kiptum was honoured at the start of the 2024 Rotterdam marathon
  • Kiptum had promised to break the two-hour record barrier in this race
  • No Kenyan managed a podium finish, with Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands winning

This was supposed to be Kelvin Kiptum’s race. He had earmarked it as a day to show the world that it was possible for a human being to run a competitive marathon in under two hours.

The 24-year-old was confident in his abilities. So much so that the whole village of Chepsamo, where he was born and bred, believed that the 2024 Rotterdam Marathon would witness a fete never seen in marathon running before.

Mourners follow proceedings during the burial ceremony of Kelvin Kiptum in Chepkorio, Kenya on February 24. Photo by Luis Tato.
Source: Getty Images

But a grisly road accident on February 11 along the Eldoret-Kaptagat highway in Kenya claimed the life of Kiptum alongside his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.

Two months after his death, the wound is still fresh and sore. It only took him three marathons to move from being the fastest debutant to the most promising marathoner in the world to the world record holder. His time of 2:00:35, which he used to win the 2023 Chicago Marathon, was the fastest time ever. No human being has ever dipped below the 2:01 mark.

To say that Kenya and the world lost a gem sounds like a gross understatement.

Kiptum honoured at Rotterdam Marathon

Kiptum was honoured posthumously before the start of the Rotterdam Marathon, with every athlete donning a ribbon in his remembrance.

His wife, Asenath Rotich, stood at the start line, deep in thought, as everyone marked a moment of silence for the deceased record holder.

2024 Rotterdam race report

In Kiptum’s absence, Kenneth Kipkemoi led Kenya’s hopes at the marathon. The Eindhoven champion had promised to run the race of his life in honour of the fallen Kiptum. He faced stiff competition from Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese, the sixth-fastest human being of all time, and home favourite Abdi Nageeye.

Kipkemoi maintained his pace in the lead group, crossing the 30K mark at 01:28:11, but he was dropped off after 35 K. The lead group was whittled down to three, with Ethopia’s Amedework Walelegn joining Legese and Nageeye.

With less than 1K to go, Nageeye shook off Walelegn with the home crowd cheering him on. The European record holder crossed the line with 2:04:45 on the clock. Walelegn crossed the line at 2:04:50, while Legese came in third at 02:05:16. Kipkemoi was fourth.

In the women’s marathon, Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere crossed the line first, clocking 02:19:30, with Kenya’s Viola Kibiwott and Selly Kaptich taking the other podium places.

Kiptum, continue resting, champ. We will remember you today, tomorrow, next month, next year, and every other moment we get. You only showed us a glimpse of what’s possible but left too soon. Forever a legend.

Evans Chebet eyes glory again at Boston Marathon

In a separate report, Sports Brief spoke to double Boston marathon champion Evans Chebet ahead of the 2024 edition.

Chebet was surprisingly omitted from the Kenyan marathon team for the Paris Olympics. The 35-year-old beat Eliud Kipchoge, among other elite athletes, to win his second crown in Boston last year.

He also talked about Kelvin Kiptum’s death, Kipchoge’s legacy and future plans.