According to World Athletics, Kelvin Kiptum was born on 2 December 1999 – however, LetsRun.com reported that Kiptum once said he was actually born in 1996, noting that he had a 7-year-old son at the time of his death. He grew up in Chepsamo village, Chepkorio, a high-altitude (~2,600 m) area in Elgeyo-Marakwet County of Kenya's Rift Valley.
Kelvin Kiptum Cheruiyot (2 December 1999 – 11 February 2024) was a Kenyan long-distance runner and the marathon world record holder when he died. He ran three of the seven fastest marathons in history and was ranked first among the world's men's marathon runners.
In 2013, at the age of 13, Kiptum participated in his first half marathon, the Family Bank Eldoret Half Marathon in his native Kenya, finishing 10th; he placed 12th the following year. In 2018, he finished first with time of 62:01. He was self-coached at the time. In March 2019, Kiptum participated in his first international race, the Lisbon Half Marathon, finishing fifth with a new personal record (59:54). He participated in six other races that year touring north and west Europe, winning the Kass Half Marathon in his home country of Kenya in November 2019. In 2020, Kiptum started working with Rwandan 3000 metres steeplechase record holder Gervais Hakizimana as a coach, although Kiptum supposedly had periodically trained alongside other youths with him since 2013. Since about 2020, he was already preparing for the marathon. In December of that year, the then-21-year-old set a significant personal best in the Spanish Valencia Half Marathon marathon at 58:42, placing sixth. In 2021, he ran 59:35 and 59:02 half marathons in Lens, Pas-de-Calais (placing first) and Valencia again (placing eighth), respectively.
Kiptum won all three marathons he ran, including two top-tier World Marathon Majors (WMM) between December 2022 and October 2023. His times were three of the seven fastest marathon times, setting a course record of less than 2 hours 2 minutes in each race.
In April 2023, Kiptum set the course record at the London Marathon (2:01:25), 16 seconds slower than the world record but 72 seconds faster than Kipchoge's course record (2:02:37).
Following Kiptum's record-breaking performance in October 2023, his coach provided insight on the athlete's training regimen. Gervais Hakizimana stated that Kiptum logged 250 to 280 km (155–173 mi) per week in the lead-up to that year's London Marathon in April. His routine regularly featured daily morning runs spanning 25–28 km, track or fartlek workouts on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and intense long runs of 30–40 km at close to marathon pace on Thursdays and Sundays. He trained alternately in the high-altitude areas of Chepkorio and the nearby Kerio Valley (800–1,200 m) before the Chicago Marathon.
Kiptum ran the fastest-ever marathon debut at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, becoming only the third man in history to break two hours and two minutes and setting the then fourth-quickest time ever. He followed it up four months later with the second-fastest marathon in history at 2:01:25, 16 seconds outside the world record, at the 2023 London Marathon (WMM). At the 2023 Chicago Marathon six months later in October 2023, he broke the world record by 34 seconds with a time of 2:00:35, a mark ratified on 6 February 2024—five days before his death—by the international track federation World Athletics.
On 8 October 2023, Kiptum set the new world record at the Chicago Marathon (2:00:35), 34 seconds off the previous record set at the 2022 Berlin Marathon.
Kiptum was buried at his farm in Naiberi following a funeral ceremony in Chepkorio on 23 February 2024 that was also attended by Coe and Ruto.
On 11 February 2024, Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana died at 11:00 PM in a road traffic accident near Kaptagat. Local police stated that Kiptum lost control of his car and veered off the road, before entering a ditch and colliding with a tree. Four men who had visited him that day about a contract for running shoes were subsequently detained for questioning concerning Kiptum's death.