After he dropped out of school, his family thought it was over for him but Kelvin Kiptum's journey to the top was just getting started.
Kelvin Kiptum’s humble stature might never show you what he had to go through to get crowned the new marathon world record holder.
The 23-year-old, just like many other athletes, was from a humble background and he did not have things easy for him growing up.
As his uncle Kiplagat Cheruiyot narrates, Kiptum abandoned school to focus on running and his father, Samson Cheruiyot, specifically, was very angry at his son’s decision.
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“This young man here dropped out of school and his father was very bitter about it. His father called us and we sat Kiptum down and told him to go back to school but it’s like he had made up his mind.
"He had shared that he wanted to study and be an electrician since he loves wiring a lot and he would even mend broken radios when he was young but his focus had now shifted.
"His father was hopeful that his son would work hard and even just finish his secondary school education but Kiptum was adamant about going back to school,” his uncle explained.
However, after some time of persuasion, Kiptum agreed to go back to school and study at the Chepkorio Polytechnic where he would later go back home and refuse to resume his studies.
He only studied at Chepkorio Polytechnic for three months and left with a Certificate in wiring, but his father, a very passionate man about education, was not satisfied with that.
He was yet to come to terms with the fact that his son would not go back to school and he decided to go to Eldoret Polytechnic to talk to one of his friends who was a lecturer in the institution who agreed to admit Kiptum back to school.
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“The lecturer agreed to that and Kiptum was intended to upgrade from a grade three certificate to a grade two before moving to the first grade.
"Kiptum agreed to go back to school but his interest in running was greater than any other thing. He used to see the likes of Timothy Cherigat running past his home and he also wanted that lifestyle.
"There was also a cousin of his who had also run back then and had paced some of the greatest runners of all time including Haile Gebreslase,” he explained.
That is how Kiptum found love on the roads and ditched education for good, or perhaps, he might go back to school later in life.
The father of two started training but his family did not believe he could do it but he was a man on a mission.
“We started asking him where his running career would go since we had so many doubts about it.
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"We even lost hope in him and we felt like he was just a useless boy because we felt like he was not going anywhere. He did not have the correct running gear,” his uncle noted.
Kiptum would borrow sporting shoes and one time, he asked three-time World Cross-country champion Geoffrey Kamworor for running shoes.
His uncle noted that Kamworor promised to get him shoes, a promise he has failed to fulfill to date.
“Kiptum went to Kamworor and requested running shoes and the latter promised to send him the shoes but he never did…it is a fact,” his uncle narrated.
He explained that Kiptum’s journey was full of so many challenges and at some point, he went to Global Sports Communication, Eliud Kipchoge’s management, and he would watch them train.
However, Kiptum felt like it was not the right place for him and he decided to go back to Chepkorio.
“He started renting a wooden house from a businessman and I visited him there. His house was not even cemented on the floor, it was pure dust.
"I then asked him, ‘What life are you now trying to live?’. He told me he wanted to get motivation to wake up every day and train harder,” Kiptum said.
Kiptum’s rented house was near a house where loud music was being played every night and the uncle was worried that Kiptum would drown in alcohol.
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“Kiptum said that it was the only place he could train but promised that he would be coming back home every night to sleep.
"However, he never came to sleep back home. He kept training and working hard,” his uncle explained.
Shortly after his training, which was back in 2018, Kiptum was ready to run his first race. He went to the Eldoret Half Marathon and to everyone’s surprise, took top honours in the race.
His uncle noted that Kiptum pocketed a good amount of money, which now earned the youngster respect.
Kiptum then went to the Kass Half Marathon and dominated one more time and now his family started embracing what he was doing.
“From there, we started supporting him. In anything he wanted to do, we would hold his hand. That is why he is here,” his uncle explained.
13:05 - 19.10.2023
23-year-old Kelvin Kiptum has shared what it felt like to beat the man considered the 'greatest of all time.'
Kiptum was once a rejected stone but he is now making waves on the roads. He made his marathon debut at the Valencia Marathon where he clocked the fastest debut time ever.
He then went to the London Marathon earlier this year and clocked the second-fastest time in history before shattering the world record at the Chicago Marathon.
And as the saying goes, he is just getting started!