Love for samosas, meat and ugali - Hotelier who used to serve Kiptum reflects

22nd February 2024

Brian Kibet, who runs a hotel, reminisces on the time he shared with Kelvin Kiptum in Chepkorio.

Kelvin Kiptum. PHOTO| Golazo
Kelvin Kiptum. PHOTO| Golazo
  • Kiptum died in a road accident alongside his coach Gervais Hakizimana.
  • According to findings, Kiptum died due to severe head injuries after being involved in the motor vehicle accident.
  • Kiptum will be buried on Friday, February 23 with President William Ruto expected to attend the event.

Chebaror butchery sits still at the heart of Chepkorio village in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

But just next door, hundreds of people have gathered at the Anglican Church of Kenya St. Peter’s Parish to give marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum a final send-off at the place he called home.

Following a fatal road accident that claimed his life as well as that of his Rwandese coach Gervais Hakizimana on 11 February 2024, several residents have been hit hard by the untimely demise of the marathon prodigy whose shining light was unfortunately put out at only 24 years of age.

Brian Kibet, the owner of the hotel inside Chebaror butchery where Kiptum used to frequent for a feast, was one of those residents.

But his was an extended relationship that they had with Kiptum, as residents point out.

Chebaror butchery where Kiptum used to eat

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“If you want someone to interview, then Kibet is the best person to talk to because he was Kiptum’s friend,” the butchery attendant says as he points towards the chosen one.

At first, he thinks it is one of the visitors who want to partake in lunch as other customers trickle in for a meal.

“Osha mikono hapo kwa tap (wash your hands at the tap),” he says.

But after a small introduction, Kibet agrees to spare a minute off duty for an exclusive interview with SportPesa News to reminisce the life and times of the fallen hero.

A little scratch of the surface and the 31-year-old discloses that their friendship with Kiptum was founded way earlier as they attended the same primary school before being reunited after going separate ways post-primary.

ALSO READ: Eldoret comes to a standstill as Kiptum is given final procession before burial

“I used to study with Kiptum at Chepsamo Primary. I have stayed with him for a long time and I am the one who used to give him food at this hotel where I work.

I was even with him on the Saturday before he passed on and I remember how we were saying we would meet on Monday because I do not open the hotel on Sundays,” Kibet regales.

Little did he know that would be the last time he would see the marathon record holder as his death followed on Sunday night.

“He told me he would be going home for the weekend and that was the last moment we spent together,” Kibet says.

According to the hotelier, the 2023 London Marathon champion started honing his running skills back in primary school where he showed a keen interest in indulging in the sport.

ALSO READ: Millions Kiptum made from international races and breaking marathon world record

It would not take long as he followed through with his dreams, opting to put his athletic talents in front of his secondary education.

“We both used to run in primary. I was participating in the short races while he did a lot of the long races and he eventually continued with running after primary school,” Kibet said.

His determination and hard stance to take up athletics instead of continuing with his studies ended up paying off when he grabbed headlines in his marathon debut in December 2022, clocking 2:01:53 to win in Valencia - the fastest debut marathon in history and good enough for third place on the world all-time list behind distance legends Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele at the time.

In his second race at the 2023 London Marathon, he made a decisive move at 30km and covered the second half in 59:45 to win in a course record of 2:01:25.

He adopted a similar approach at the Chicago Marathon just six months later, where he ran splits of 1:00:48 and 59:47 to cross the line in a world record of 2:00:35, taking 34 seconds off Kipchoge’s world record from 2022 to spiral to the top of the marathon charts in just his third event.

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But all through his ascendancy to the top, Kibet discloses that Kiptum did not change despite his new status in the athletic world.

“He (Kiptum) was such a simple and affable man. He also used to help a lot of people around here and that is how we will remember him,” he stated.

Kibet also revealed how Kiptum would bring his friends, including foreigners, to the Chebaror hotel and what his favourite meal was during the times he used to visit the establishment.

“Kiptum just used to stay a few metres from here and he would come to eat here a good number of times within a week. His favourite food was meat (beef), ugali and samosa. He would also come here with his friends who included foreigners,” Kibet revealed.

Inside the hotel at Chebaror butchery

For a man who was labelled as the epitome of simplicity, Kibet bemoaned the loss of the marathon champion even as the world accorded him a final send-off on his penultimate day.

“I was called immediately after the accident and I was lost for words.

We will remember him for the marathon record he set, how good he was, how he stayed well with people and how simple of a man he was,” Kibet concluded.

Kiptum will be buried at his four-acre farm in Naiberi, Uasin Gishu County on Friday with President William Ruto and other dignitaries expected to attend the burial ceremony.

Brian Kibet

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