Kiptum was planning a colourful wedding ceremony before death

Asenath Rotich (centre), widow of the late Kelvin Kiptum, the World Marathon Record Holder during a burial service at Chepkorio Showground in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet County on February 23, 2024. Kiptum died together with his coach Gervais Hakizimana following a road crash at Flax on the Eldoret-Kaptagat-Eldama Ravine road.

Photo credit: JARED NYATAYA| Nation

What you need to know:

  • Widow, Asenath Cheruto reveals the top athlete, Kelvin Kiptum was preparing to solemnise their marriage in April.
  • The late Kiptum was married to Asenath in 2017 in a traditional ceremony, according to the published eulogy.

April 2024 was meant to be a beautiful month for Asenath Cheruto.

This was the month she would have exchanged vows with the love of her life, her husband- World Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum. It is a dream of many women to have such a ceremony.

It would also have been the month Cheruto, the mother of Kelvin’s two children would have accompanied her husband to Rotterdam for the April 14 Marathon, where the world’s fastest marathoner was eyeing to set yet another global record.

But as fate would have it, Kiptum’s death cut short these dreams, among many others.

It has emerged that the international marathoner was planning a colourful wedding with his wife Cheruto, to solemnise their marriage.

In an emotional tribute, Ms Cheruto, accompanied by their two children Caleb, 7, and Precious, 4, mourned her departed husband as a loving and caring man who dearly cherished his family.

She told throngs of mourners, attending the athlete’s funeral ceremony at Chepkorio grounds in Keiyo South constituency, Elgeyo Marakwet county on Friday that she would go on and make her vows of love even in her husband’s absence.

“I will still make my vows of love even in your absence,” she said, fighting back tears.

The late Kiptum was married to Cheruto in 2017 in a traditional ceremony, according to the published eulogy.

The widow regretted that they didn’t get to enjoy the rewards of his toil as a young family, promising to stay strong for their two children, and in his honour.

President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, and top athletes and athletics officials were among the dignitaries who attended the funeral ceremony, with the President pledging a second house to the widow in honour of the departed athlete, besides what the government constructed at the couple’s Naiberi farm where the late athlete was laid to rest on Friday afternoon.

The late Kiptum was the only child of his father Samson Cheruiyoit and mother Mary Kangogo and had one step-sister- Rhodah Chemutai.

“I mourn you my love and I promise to stay strong for the sake of our children. I promise to make them smile in your honour, I promise to make you happy,” Cheruto mourned.

Mourners turned up in large numbers to pay their last respects to the fallen internationally celebrated marathoner at the funeral ceremony at Chepkorio showground.

President William Ruto, responding to requests from speakers to consider employment for the widow, promised to find her something to do.

Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei asked Kiptum’s Governor Wisley Rotich to consider employing the widow at the county government of Elgeyo Marakwet so that she stays close to home and can support the family.

At Friday’s funeral ceremony, President Ruto promised that the government would give his widow a second house besides what it constructed for the family at the couple’s Naiberi home. He revealed that the government had already given the athlete Sh5 million.

The government, through Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, also promised to ensure all monies and benefits meant for the late athlete reach his family, with the CS promising to document all the resources that were due to him.

“The Ministry is being very deliberate in documenting anything that was due to Kiptum—from government, agents, endorsements, management…we shall pursue every single coin and make sure it is put together to the benefit of this family. Your excellency, we give that assurance,” said the CS who delivered an emotional tribute at Chepkorio showground.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich had earlier in a speech appealed to Kiptum’s athletics managers to protect the rights of the family and requested them to ensure all his monies are paid to the family.

Governor Rotich said the athlete’s managers should ensure justice, by making sure no single cent disappears along the way.

“I appeal to those who were managers of Kelvin and his coaches, I want to request on behalf of Kelvin who was my personal friend, so that we protect the rights of this family, please do justice to Kelvin by ensuring that no single cent of his disappears along the way,” he appealed.

“It will even be worse if it disappears and the person is dead. It will be a curse of generations. I am requesting your excellency, if they don’t comply we will come to you. The children are still so young and need to get up to university and need the resources,” appealed the said Elgeyo Marakwet Governor where the late Kiptum hailed from.

Mr Namwamba said the government had in a record seven days put up two- three-bedroomed houses, for the widow and the athlete’s parents, and will continue to stand with this family.

The CS later attended the athlete’s burial ceremony at his new home in Naiberi, Uasin Gishu county, after handing over the new house constructed by the government to his widow, in the presence of his Transport, Roads and Public Works counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen.

In an earlier interview with Nation.Africa, Ms Cheruto recalled that her late husband had big plans for the family, and was in the process of putting up a family home in Uasin Gishu county where most athletes are settled.

The couple was waiting for approval of the house plans by the county government and targeted to have the completed house by June, according to the widow.

“We had good plans. He even planned to take me with him for the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14 this year,” she told Nation.Africa.

Kiptum’s body lay at his Chepsamo home in an overnight vigil on Thursday night ahead of his burial.