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Kenyans mourn marathon world record holder Kiptum as body returns home

ELDORET, Kenya : Hundreds of mourners on Thursday accompanied the casket of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum on its way to his home village, where the young star who dreamed of breaking the race's storied two-hour barrier will be laid to rest.

Singing hymns and holding hands, mourners walked alongside the convoy carrying Kiptum's flower-lined casket as it departed a morgue in the western Kenyan city of Eldoret for his village of Chepsamo.

Kiptum, 24, was killed alongside his coach Gervais Hakizimana earlier this month when he lost control of the vehicle he was driving in Kenya's Rift Valley and crashed into a tree. The pathologist's report said he died of head injuries.

Kiptum had only run three marathons but each was among the fastest seven times ever recorded. He set the world record at the Chicago Marathon in October in two hours and 35 seconds, eclipsing the 2:01:09 run by compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in 2022.

Kiptum had hoped to break two hours in Rotterdam in April and was also expected to make his Olympic debut in Paris this year in what could have been his first head-to-head match-up with Kipchoge.

The casket will travel about 80 km (50 miles) on its way from Eldoret to Chepsamo, where Kiptum worked as a livestock herder before becoming a professional runner. He will be buried on Friday.

Kiptum is survived by his wife and two young children. Kenyan President William Ruto ordered a house to be built for the family.