The curse of the Kenyan marathon continues

Some, such as Kenyan President William Ruto, saw him as a “hero” and “future” of marathoning in Kenya. Others could not help but harbor a certain skepticism towards the young man and his meteoric rise, which in the eyes of officials is a reflection of the Kenyan federation and which is very hard to believe. Kelvin Kiptum has decided to take with him the secret of his short but remarkable marathon invincibility (winners in Valencia, London and Chicago), punctuated by an inhuman world record over 42 kilometers, now set at 2 hours and 35 seconds.

A tragic fatal road accident in Kiptam robbed him of the opportunity to “achieve excellence”, to use Elude Kipchoge’s words, “deeply saddened”, in a heartfelt tribute to his new rival, whom he was eager to compete with. 2024 Olympics in Paris more than any other.

Former hopefuls Vanjaru and Tirop, dead from violence

The sudden death of the world’s promising marathon runner adds another stone to the thesis of the curse of Kenyan runners. In 2011 Samuel Wanjiru, gold medalist in the Beijing Marathon at the 2008 Olympics and Olympic record holder for the distance, also died aged 24. He had four other marathons (a double in Chicago, a win in Fukuoka and another in London, where he set the world record at the time in 2:05:10). The cause of his death remained unclear for a long time, but a forensic doctor eventually ruled it a homicide, saying the athlete had fallen from a balcony before being hit in the head with a “blunt object”.

More recently, in 2021, Kenyan athletics mourned the death of its long-distance running hopeful Agnes Tirop, who was found stabbed to death at the age of 25 at her home in Iten, not far from Eldoret. A reference to the cross, of which she was world champion in 2015, Tirop was allegedly beaten by her husband, Ibrahim Rotich, who still denies the facts, although he was released on bail in 2023 after two years of detention. Several witnesses, including Agnes Tirop’s sister, revealed that Rotich was violent towards Agnes Tirop and had beaten her several times.

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