Huge respect for Kiptum as Rotterdam Marathon winner Nageeye dedicates title to fallen Kenyan star

Kelvin Kiptum

Kenya's late Kelvin Kiptum during a press conference ahead of the 2023 London Marathon.

Photo credit: File | Reuters

What you need to know:

  • Kiptum’s widow Asenath Rotich broke down at the start line after the master of ceremonies announced the start of the minute’s silence in honour of her late husband after he had urged the 50,000 runners to support the Kelvin Kiptum Foundation.
  • Organisers retired Kiptum’s “Number 1” race running bib in his honour.

Organisers of this year’s Rotterdam Marathon Sunday paid glowing tribute to Kenya’s fallen world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum with a minute’s silence observed in honour of the late star at the start of the race that attracted 50,000 runners.

Another 30,000 athletes were on standby with this year’s edition of the Dutch port city race having been over-subscribed last November when Kiptum announced that he would attempt to win the race in under two hours.

His spectacular announcement attracted huge interest in the race from runners who wanted to be part of history, with organisers Golazo maintaining the race slogan “Be Part of History” even after Kiptum’s tragic death, alongside his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana, on the Eldoret-Kaptagat road on the night of February 11.

The men’s race winner on Sunday, Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands, dedicated his victory to Kiptum and his training partners from Kaptagat, who included Kenneth Kipkemoi, the fourth-placed finisher.

Nageeye had pitched camp in Kaptagat to prepare for Sunday’s race and also for the Paris Olympic Games.

Kiptum’s widow Asenath Rotich broke down at the start line after the master of ceremonies announced the start of the minute’s silence in honour of her late husband after he had urged the 50,000 runners to support the Kelvin Kiptum Foundation.

She travelled here as a special guest of the race.

Organisers also retired Kiptum’s “Number 1” race running bib in his honour.

Also at the start line on Sunday was Kenya’s National Treasury Principal Secretary Dr Chris Kiptoo who observed that had Kiptum lived, he would have competed in the race and would have achieved his ambition of breaking his own world record by clocking a sub-two hour time.

The PS, an avid follower of sport and patron of the Kaptagat 10-kilometre Road Race and tree-planting initiative that enters its eighth year this July, was accompanied by Kenya’s ambassador to The Netherlands Margaret Shava, Athletics Kenya President Lt. Gen. (rtd) Jackson Tuwei, who is also the Vice President of World Athletics, and Golazo Founder and CEO Bob Verbeeck.

Kiptoo said July’s eighth edition of the Kaptagat Road Race and tree-planting drive will be held in honour of Kiptum.

“I’m very happy that this (Rotterdam Marathon) race has been dedicated to Kelvin Kiptum. This race was meant for Kelvin and he was determined to make a better performance than before, but God took him too soon and the world is using this opportunity to remember him,” Kiptoo said.

“What I like is the fact that the leadership of this race has announced to the world that we are looking at the Kelvin Kiptum Foundation to not only support the family, but also those that Kiptum supported.

“I have come here not only as a member of Kelvin’s family, but also as a member of the Government, having been on my way to the US for another official visit… we lost Kelvin but the world remembers him and we will be soon be launching the Kelvin Kiptum Foundation in Kenya and engaging in activities that will keep him remembered.”

Somali-born Nageeye won the men’s race on Sunday in a Dutch national record time of two hours, four minutes and 45 seconds, an 11-second improvement of his previous record of 2:04:56.

He also expressed his satisfaction with the Eliud Kipchoge-inspired new Nike Alphafly 3 shoe that he raced in.

Kenya’s two-time Olympic marathon champion and former world marathon record holder Kipchoge helped design the Nike Alphafly series prototypes.

“I trained in Kaptagat (for the race) and so when Kenneth was with me, I was feeling that it’s us against the Ethiopians, but I was also thinking that this victory has to go to Kaptagat for Kiptum,” Nageeye said.

“So I was telling Kenneth ‘they are waiting for us, so you push for one kilometre then I push the next kilometre… until we got to the hard part at 35 kilometres and I told him ‘let’s do it’ but at the end he was not that strong… I really felt we had to win it for Kaptagat, and Kiptum. For the first time I felt like I was part of Kenya,” Nageeye, Olympic marathon silver medalist in Tokyo three years ago behind Kipchoge, said.

The women’s race was dominated by pre-race favourite, Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere, who broke away from the Kenyan chasing pack of Sally Chepyego and Viola Kibiwot at kilometre 35 to win in an impressive 2:19:30.

Kibiwot, a former 1,500 metres track runner, was rewarded with a personal best 2:20:57 with Chepyego third in 2:22:46.

“The course was good for me…it’s my fifth marathon and I’m happy to finally be on the podium,” said Kibiwot who paid glowing tribute to Kiptum.

“We are still mourning Kiptum.. we did our best in honour of his name. He wanted to run a world record here, and we are proud that we did our best.

Chepyego was impressed by her performance, although she said they had planned a faster race.

“The course was so nice, and despite being slower than the time we were targeting, it was amazing and we are proud because being on the podium is not an easy thing,” she said.

Former world cross country champion Emily Chebet was impressive on her marathon debut here, finishing fourth in 2:24:49 with the fourth Kenyan entrant, Pascalia Jepkogei, fifth in 2:24:56.

Global running focus now shifts to today’s Boston Marathon, one of the races on the six-race World Marathon Majors schedule.

Some 29,451 runners are entered in Boston with the Kenyan charge led by Evans Chebet on the men’s side and Hellen Obiri and Edna Kiplagat in the women’s division.

Kenya-born Caroline Rotich will be competing for the first time in Boston for the stars and stripes having taken up US citizenship.

Leading results from Sunday’s Rotterdam Marathon:


  1. Ashete Bekere (Ethiopia) 2:19:30
  2. Viola Kibiwot (Kenya) 2:20:57
  3. Sally Chepyego (Kenya) 2:22:46
  4. Emily Chebet (Kenya) 2:24:49
  5. Pascalia Jepkogei (Kenya) 2:24:56
  6. Thalia Valdivia (Peru) 2:25:53


  1. Abdi Nageeye (Netherlands) 2:04:45
  2. Amedework Walelegn (Ethiopia) 2:04:50
  3. Birhanu Legese (Ethiopia) 2:05:16
  4. Kenneth Kipkemoi (Kenya) 2:05:43
  5. Enock Onchari (Kenya) 2:06:07
  6. Lameck Too (Kenya) 2:06:29