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Kelvin Kiptum’s wife reveals details of their last phone call and a promise he made to their children.

Kelvin Kiptum's wife

The wife of world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum said he had promised his children new watches and was building them a family home before his tragic death in a car accident.

Kenyan runner Kiptum, 24, made history in October when he clocked 2:00.35 to win the Chicago Marathon and take 34 seconds off the 26-mile world record held by compatriot Eliud Kipchoge.

He was killed alongside his coach Gervais Hakizimana in the road accident near Kaptagat, an area in the south-west of Kenya renowned as a training base for distance runners.

Kiptum’s widow Asenath Cheruto Rotich said he was constructing a family home in the area of Eldoret, close to where other athletes live, and had aimed to complete the building project by June.

The mother-of-two said she last saw her husband on February 10 when he left for the Fluorspar training camp in Kerio Valley, planning to return on Monday.

Kiptum had promised to take his family on an outing on Sunday but a headache led to him calling off the plans.

The couple spoke twice on Sunday and during their last conversation at around 8pm, Kiptum promised to buy his kids the watches they wanted.

Having gone to bed, she was awoken around 11pm by her mother-in-law frantically knocking on the door.

They initially received misleading reports that Kiptum and Hakizimana had been carjacked, heading to where the car had been found in a forest area in Kaptagat.

However, they were then sent to Racecourse Hospital where they were told the tragic news.

His wife spoke of how Kiptum aimed to smash the two-hour barrier. ‘He hoped to run in sub-two hours. He was working hard and sometimes I told him he trained too much and when the time comes he will be too tired,’ she said.

 

Kelvin Kiptum's wife

‘But he would say “no, it’s fine” and that he is supposed to go 10 laps. I used to tell him to rest on Sundays, but he would refuse.

‘We had planned to go with him to Rotterdam in April – and now it is not possible.’

Kiptum won his first London Marathon last April in a course record of 2:01.25, which was then the second fastest marathon time ever. It followed an eye-catching victory on his marathon debut in Valencia in December 2022.

Kiptum would have been the favourite to win gold at this summer’s Olympics in Paris, in what was set to be an almighty showdown against his team-mate Kipchoge, the 39-year-old two-time defending champion.

Kipchonge took to X to express his sadness at the news. A post, topped with the words ‘Rest in peace Kelvin,’ read: ‘I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of the Marathon World record holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum.

‘An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness.

‘I offer my deepest condolences to his young family. May god comfort you during this trying time.’

World Athletics president Seb Coe led the tributes to Kiptum on Sunday night, saying he was ‘an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy’.

He wrote on X: ‘We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.

‘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.’