Kelvin Kiptum smashes marathon world record

It was a cold, crisp morning on October 8th. Over 50,000 runners were lined up to compete in the 2023 Chicago Marathon. At 7:30 AM, the gun went off, and a little after 9:30 AM history was made when 23-year-old Kenyan, Kelvin Kiptum, crossed the finish line in 2:00:35. This is the first record eligible marathon under two hours and one minute, beating Eluid Kipchoge’s previous official world record by 34 seconds. That pace means Kiptum was averaging 4:36 per mile for 26.2 miles of the race.

“I knew I was coming for a course record, but a world record – I am so happy,” Kiptum said afterwards, according to World Athletics. “A world record was not on my mind today, but I knew one day I would be a world record-holder.”

Hope College student, Ethan Grevengoed (’27), was at the race and saw Kiptum come through at the 2.5 and 13.1 mile marks. “They were going so fast and they made it look so easy. It was mind blowing.” He, along with many others, went into the race thinking Kiptum would win and potentially run a world record.

Half way through the race, Kiptum was not on pace to break the world record. In fact at the half-marathon mark, he was almost a minute off the pace of Kipchoge’s 2022 Berlin race. 

Perhaps the most impressive part of this race was Kiptum’s move at mile 19, where he gapped the field with a 4:21 mile. “That’s my strategy, 19 miles, 20, I make a move,” Kiptum said after the race. He soon followed that up with the fastest recorded mile in marathon history, with a 4:18 22nd mile. He said he never felt any discomfort during the race and felt confident from 5K on that he would set the record.

Kiptum burst onto the Marathon scene less than a year ago when he ran the fastest marathon debut ever, setting a London Marathon course record of 2:01:25, 16 seconds off Kipchoge’s previous World Record.

Kelvin Kiptum’s training regiment in preparation for the Chicago marathon is nothing short of astounding. According to what Kiptum’s coach Gervais Hakizimana told reporters prior to the race, he runs around 180 miles a week, which is absolutely absurd. The typical week of training for Kiptum looks something like this:

  • Monday
    • Morning: 15-17 miles at 5:55-6:45 pace per mile
    • Afternoon: 7-8 mile jog
  • Tuesday
    • Morning: 3-4 mile warmup, 1 hour Fartlek(Slow- to fast-paced workout), 3-4 mile cooldown
    • Afternoon: 7-8 mile jog
  • Wednesday
    • Morning: 15-17 miles at 5:55-6:45 pace per mile
    • Afternoon: 7-8 mile jog
  • Thursday
    • 18-24 miles at close to Marathon pace (4:45 pace or faster)
  • Friday
    • Morning: 15-17 miles at 5:55-6:45 pace per mile
    • Afternoon: 7-8 mile jog
  • Saturday
    • Morning: 3-4 mile warmup, 1 hour Fartlek, 3-4 mile cooldown
    • Afternoon: 7-8 mile jog
  • Sunday
    • 18-25 miles at close to Marathon pace (4:45 pace or faster)

You don’t need to be a running nerd to understand just how insane this training regiment is. Hakizimana also added that they only rest when Kiptum is tired or feels “excess fatigue,” but he is so resilient and tough this doesn’t happen often, if ever. A typical day for Kiptum only really involves running, eating, sleeping and any other activities he and his team deem necessary for his training and recovery. 

There is some worry that a training plan with this level of intensity is not sustainable in the long run for Kiptum. When Eluid Kipchoge broke the world record with a 2:01.09 in Berlin, he was running around 140 miles a week, with an emphasis on mileage at a slower pace. 

Kipchoge became famous for his mantra of “No Human is Limited” and his participation in the Nike “Breaking2” and “INEOS 1:59” projects. In October of 2019 in Vienna, Austria he ran a 1:59:40.2 marathon but unfortunately this time isn’t an official world record. This is because Kipchoge was assisted by 7 pacers at a time from a rotating posse of 43 professional runners and car with a laser showing the proper pace, and the race took place on a 1.5 mile Formula 1 race track loop that was not ratified by World Athletics. This is still the only time any human has ever broken 2 hours in the marathon, even though it wasn’t official.

Kipchoge is undoubtedly one of the greatest, if not the greatest marathon runner of all time, and he has revolutionized the sport. Although he is coming off of an impressive win in Berlin in September, people wonder how long he can continue his marathon dominance, especially since Kipchoge is 38. “I think that Kiptum beats Kipchoge at the Paris Olympic Marathon and officially takes over as the best marathoner in the World,” Grevengoed said.

Kelvin Kiptum and his coach have said he is far from done and has many future goals in the marathon. Since he is only 23 years and just getting into his prime the sky’s the limit for Kiptum as long as he can remain healthy and not burn out. Could this mean we could see a ratified sub two-hour marathon at a marathon major? Only time will tell.

Photo credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images via NPR

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