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Hundreds of Kenyan mourners gather to pay their respects to marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum , who died in a car crash aged 24 earlier this month, as his body is returned to his home village for burial


Mourners gathered to pay their respects as the body of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum was taken to his home village for burial. 

The 24-year-old died in a car crash in his native Kenya on February 11, with his coach, Rwanda‘s Gervais Hakizimana, 37, also killed in the road accident near Kaptagat, an area in the south-west of the country renowned as a training base for distance runners.

The news has rocked the athletics world, with World Athletics president Seb Coe leading the tributes to Kiptum earlier this month, saying he was ‘an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy’.

The Kenyan distance runner’s death came just five days after World Athletics ratified his world record time of 2:00.35, which he set when winning the Chicago Marathon.

A married father of two, Kiptum will be buried at his home in the village of Chepkorio on Friday. His coffin was carried in a hearse through the streets of western Kenya as mourners watched on, sang hymns and paid their respects. 

A priest leads a prayer with family members in front of the coffin of Kelvin Kiptum during his funeral proceedings on Thursday

A priest leads a prayer with family members in front of the coffin of Kelvin Kiptum during his funeral proceedings on Thursday

A woman displays a portrait of Kenyan athlete Kelvin Kiptum's ahead of a public viewing of his body

A woman displays a portrait of Kenyan athlete Kelvin Kiptum’s ahead of a public viewing of his body

Kiptum's father Samson Cheruiyot arrives at the mortuary as the funeral proceedings begin

Kiptum’s father Samson Cheruiyot arrives at the mortuary as the funeral proceedings begin

Members of the public take photos of the casket of Kenyan athlete Kelvin Kiptum ahead of a public viewing of his body

Members of the public take photos of the casket of Kenyan athlete Kelvin Kiptum ahead of a public viewing of his body

The funeral procession began in Elgeyo Marakwet, Kenya on Thursday with the athlete to be buried in his home village on Friday

The funeral procession began in Elgeyo Marakwet, Kenya on Thursday with the athlete to be buried in his home village on Friday

People gather next to the hearse carrying the coffin of Kenyan marathon runner Kelvin during his funeral proceedings

People gather next to the hearse carrying the coffin of Kenyan marathon runner Kelvin during his funeral proceedings

Kiptum’s father Samson Cheruiyot called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his son’s death and now, following a police autopsy, answers were provided on Thursday. 

According to MARCA, Johansen Oduor – a pathologist for the Government of Kenya – has revealed that Kiptum suffered ‘serious head injuries’ as well as ‘injuries to the lungs’.

‘The deceased Kelvin suffered serious head injuries. There were serious skull fractures that occurred mainly at the base of the skull,’ the doctor explained.

He also claimed that ‘there were some fractures in the ribs on both sides’.

‘There were also injuries to the lungs. What really caused Kelvin’s death were severe head injuries that, when I look at them, look more like they were caused by a car accident,’ the doctor noted.

Oduor added that samples were taken for additional analysis because the circumstances of the death are being investigated.

‘The samples – he pointed out – will undergo a complete toxicological analysis so that we can see if there was anything that could have contributed to his death’.

Kiptum’s family responded to the autopsy, to which they said: ‘We are satisfied with the results. I witnessed the entire process.

‘We are now waiting for the samples that they said will be taken for analysis,’ said Philip Kiplagat, a spokesman for Kiptum’s family.

Kiptum made history last October when he clocked 2:00.35 to win the Chicago Marathon

Kiptum made history last October when he clocked 2:00.35 to win the Chicago Marathon

Kenya's World 1500 metres Champion Faith Kipyegon (centre) is joined by other athletes as they look on during the public viewing

Kenya’s World 1500 metres Champion Faith Kipyegon (centre) is joined by other athletes as they look on during the public viewing

People walk along with the hearse carrying the coffin of the Kenyan marathon runner

People walk along with the hearse carrying the coffin of the Kenyan marathon runner

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Kenya's marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Kenya’s marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum

The coffin of Kiptum is seen during his funeral proceedings at a church in Chepkorio, Kenya

The coffin of Kiptum is seen during his funeral proceedings at a church in Chepkorio, Kenya

According to Kenneth Kimaiyo – one of the first responders at the crash site – via Nation, Kiptum’s body was found under the vehicle with the runner already dead, and Hakizimana still alive on a hill.

A female passenger, Sharon Chepkemoi, 32, survived the incident after being taken to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.

He said he saw a man on a motorbike helping Chepkemoi at the scene, who was screaming for help and taken to Sanvanis Dispensary before being transferred to MTRH.

‘We tried to save the coach because he was still breathing, but he died immediately,’ Kimaiyo, who added that he had known Kiptum for a long time because he would often visit his shop in Chepkorio, said.

‘Kiptum was laying under he car with his seat belt ripped and he was already dead,’ he revealed.

Professional Kenyan athletes carry the coffin of Kelvin Kiptum after a memorial mass

Professional Kenyan athletes carry the coffin of Kelvin Kiptum after a memorial mass

Students react as the coffin of the late marathon runner arrives to the grounds of the school where he used to study

Students react as the coffin of the late marathon runner arrives to the grounds of the school where he used to study 

Students line up next to the road to see the hearse carrying the coffin of late marathon runner

Students line up next to the road to see the hearse carrying the coffin of late marathon runner 

People attend a commemoration event held for Kiptum in the capital Nairobi

People attend a commemoration event held for Kiptum in the capital Nairobi

Kiptum made history in October when he clocked 2:00.35 to win the Chicago Marathon, smashing his fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge ‘s world record by 34 seconds. His landmark time was only officially ratified by World Athletics last Tuesday.

Kiptum also 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.

He 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, and he had been due to race at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, where he was hoping to break the two-hour barrier for the first time ever on a record-eligible course.



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