Hundreds gather to mourn marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum

ELDORET, Kenya -- Hundreds of Kenyans paid their respects Thursday as the body of marathon world-record holder Kelvin Kiptum, who dreamed of breaking the race's storied two-hour barrier, was driven to his home village for burial.

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

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

The casket was opened for a viewing in the local county capital on its way to Chepsamo village. Kiptum's father held the late runner's 7-year-old son, while women's 1,500-meter world-record holder Faith Kipyegon held her face in her hands.

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

He had hoped to break two hours in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in April and was expected to make his Olympic debut in Paris this year in what could have been his first head-to-head matchup with Kipchoge.

The casket will travel about 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 Friday.

Kiptum is survived by his wife, his 7-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. Kenyan President William Ruto ordered a house to be built for the family.

His coach Hakizimana was buried Wednesday in his native Rwanda.