Kelvin Kiptum's devastating phone call: what he confessed to his father hours before he died

The news about the death of Kelvin Kiptum (24 years old) is flowing in the world press, although here the subject has disappeared from the foreground, after it was treated with gross indifference anyway.

Kelvin Kiptum, the world record holder in the marathon event, died at the age of 24

Moreover, in our country, the news of Kiptum's death was overshadowed by the “Dodel Tănase” case, which was much more widely publicized. The explanation is simple: while in the world of sports, high-level performance is understood and valued, unfortunately, we have lost these qualities. And we do not realize the magnitude of the tragedy of Kelvin Kiptum's death because we do not understand that such an athlete is not born every day.

We are talking about an elite runner, the world record holder in the marathon, in pole position to break the 2 hour barrier in a race of 42.195km. So far, only Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya, 39 years old) has achieved such a thing, in Vienna, in 2019. However, his result was not approved by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), because the event in the Austrian capital did not meet several conditions in the regulation.

In contrast, Kiptum, with his time of 2 hours and 35 seconds at the Chicago Marathon on October 8, 2023, was only 36 seconds short of that feat. And according to his father, Samson Cheruyot, Kelvin had already reached the athletic form necessary to finish the marathon in a jaw-dropping time of 1 hour and 58 minutes! This incredible goal was to be achieved by Kelvin on the 14th of April in the Rotterdam Marathon.

Unfortunately, the accident on Sunday, in which the Kenyan runner died on the spot, along with his coach, robbed us of the chance to witness such a historic result. And the regrets are heightened when we go through the statements given by Kelvin Kiptum's father. With tears in his eyes, the man spoke with difficulty in front of reporters who stormed the house where the world record holder in the marathon race grew up.

I was watching the news and saw that they announced that my son had died. Immediately, I went to the scene of the accident, but the car had already been taken by the police, and so was my boy's body. He was my only child. His mother had been ill for a while. Now we are both broken“, were the first statements given by Samson Cheruyot, who worked in the fields on the family farm all his life.

I last spoke to Kelvin on the phone on Saturday. He told me that someone from his management team would come and build us a new house. And that they will also give us a car. He was very optimistic about the Rotterdam race. He said he was in great shape and could now finish the marathon in an hour and 59 or even 58 minutes“, continued the father of the deceased athlete.

Kelvin, center, with his wife and father (right), led a very simple life

Kelvin, center, with his wife and father (right), led a very simple life

Kelvin left behind not only his elderly parents, who live in rural Kenya in rudimentary conditions, but also a wife, Asenath Rotich, with two children. The boys are 7 and 4 years old. “He loved his children very much. Now, I don't know what to tell them. They look at me and I don't have an answer for them. I hope the government will give us a helping hand because without Kelvin we have nobody“, the runner's wife said in a dialogue with the press.

He defied his father to follow his dream

Kelvin Kiptum had a truly tragic fate, although he earned his place in the history of world sports with the record set after the Chicago Marathon 2023. Up to this point, however, he has done a titanic job. And he rose from a shining poverty, evidenced by the fact that, in 2018, he competed in the first race with some borrowed shoes. Because he didn't have the money to buy a pair of running shoes.

During his childhood, Kelvin worked side by side with his father on the farm near their home. And to become an elite runner, he had to defy his father. Because his father insisted that the boy become an electrician, convinced that this job would provide him with an income.

I went through a very difficult time when I decided I wanted to get into performance athletics. Initially, my father did not agree. And, for four years, I worked intermittently, but I was not successful as an athlete. That's why the family was disappointed. However, I did not give up and continued to work. Then the results started coming. And, at some point, my father also started to encourage me, to take me to practice in the morning“, said Kelvin, last year, after his electrifying race in Chicago.

Also then, the BBC made a material dedicated to the world record holder. In which Kelvin's relatives were also interviewed. “He is a very humble guy. He speaks very little. But when it runs… you say it's a car!said Wesley Korir (41), a former performance athlete from Kenya who attended the 2023 Chicago Marathon.

Coach Garvais Hakizimana (Rwanda, 36), who has now died alongside Kelvin Kiptum in the car crash, also spoke on the BBC show. “Kelvin was afraid to take the step towards the marathon. He was worried that he would not be able to cope, because it is a very difficult test. He preferred to compete in shorter distances, up to the half-marathon level. It wasn't until 2022 that I managed to convince him to switch to marathons“, Hakizimana told BBC Sport Africa.

The decision of the Kiptum – Hakizimana couple turned out to be a very inspired one! In his short marathon career, Kelvin competed in three races. His times appear in the Top 6 best results in the history of the event! What is even more shocking is that the Kenyan athlete completed these three marathons in less than a year. Elite marathoners typically compete in a maximum of two races per season, given the difficulty of the event.

For 2024, in addition to the Rotterdam marathon, in which he was going to attempt to break the 2-hour barrier, Kelvin Kiptum also had the Paris marathon on his schedule, being the favorite for Olympic gold.

Kelvin Kiptum's times in the marathon event

*2023 (Chicago): 2 hours and 35 seconds*

*2023 (London): 2 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds

*2022 (Valencia): 2 hours, 1 minute and 53 seconds

*current world record