Kelvin Kiptum made history by winning the Chicago Marathon on Sunday with a time of 2:00.35, potentially breaking Eliud Kipchoge’s world record (pending ratification) and bringing humanity closer to the elusive 2-hour marathon barrier.
The 23-year-old Kenyan athlete soaked in the adulation of the crowd as he crossed the finish line, waving and pointing to the spectators over the final meters. His remarkable achievement marked the first time a man officially broke the 2:01.00 barrier in a competitive marathon, surpassing Kipchoge’s previous record of 2:01.09 set in Berlin.
Kiptum expressed his surprise at the world record, stating, “A world record was not on my mind today. I knew I was coming for a course record, but a world record — I am so happy,” in an interview with World Athletics.
Remarkably, Kelvin Kiptum only began competing in marathons a year ago but has already achieved some of the fastest times in history. He set a London Marathon Record with a time of 2:01.25 in April, placing him second only to Kipchoge in the all-time rankings at that moment.
While it’s worth noting that Kipchoge famously completed a marathon in 1:59.40 during his Vienna World INEOS challenge in 2019, Kiptum’s Chicago Marathon victory was a significant milestone.
Kelvin Kiptum’s comment after Chicago Marathon
During the race, Kiptum led alongside fellow Kenyan Daniel Mateiko for the first 20 miles. Subsequently, he gradually pulled ahead, leaving Mateiko behind.
Explaining his strategy, Kiptum said, “That’s my strategy. Nineteen miles, twenty, I made a move.”
Kiptum was not the only podium finisher representing the Maasai Shield, as 2022 winner Benson Kipruto secured the second position this year with a time of 2:04.02. Bashir Abdi from Belgium finished third in 2:04:32.
In a related development, Ethiopian runner Tigst Assefa set a new women’s marathon record, beating Brigid Kosgei’s 2019 record of 2:14.04 by running an impressive 2:11.53 in Berlin on September 24th.
The Chicago Women’s competition also saw 10,000m and 5000m Olympic Champion Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands make her road racing return after a busy world championships, winning with a time of 2:13.44, the second fastest mark ever if ratified. Reigning two-time Chicago Winner Ruth Chepngetich from Kenya secured the second position with a time of 2:15.37, while Ethiopian Alemu Megertu finished third in 2:17.09.
Reflecting on her victory, Hassan said, “It was amazing. I’m grateful that I win.”
This event marked the penultimate race in the WMM (World Marathon Majors) series, with the NYC Marathon set to close out the 2023 season on November 5th.