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Kelvin Kiptum breaks a world record in his U.S. marathon debut

Kelvin Kiptum of Kenya celebrates after winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon professional men's division and setting a world record marathon time of 2:00.35 at Grant Park on Sunday in Chicago, Illinois.
Michael Reaves
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Kelvin Kiptum of Kenya celebrates after winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon professional men's division and setting a world record marathon time of 2:00.35 at Grant Park on Sunday in Chicago, Illinois.

No other runner could be seen in the distance when Kelvin Kiptum tore through the finish line tape in Chicago. Not only did the 23-year-old Kenyan win on Sunday, but he set a new world record.

Kiptum crossed the finish line at the Chicago Marathon with an unofficial time of 2 hours and 35 seconds. If confirmed, Kiptum will have beaten two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge's record, set at the 2022 Berlin Marathon, by 34 seconds.

It would also make Kiptum the first athlete in the world to break 2 hours and 1 minute in a record-eligible marathon.

"I knew I was coming for a course record, but a world record — I am so happy," Kiptum said, 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."

By the 5-km mark or 3.1 miles, Kiptum and Daniel Mateiko, also from Kenya, had broken away from the group of runners. The two were neck and neck until around 30 km, or 18.6 miles, when Kiptum propelled forward and ran with urgency until Mateiko was no longer in sight.

Mateiko dropped out of the race shortly after, allowing fellow countryman Benson Kipruto to finish second. Belgian runner Bashir Abdi came in third. Four Americans — Conner Mantz, Clayton Young, Galen Rupp and Sam Chelanga — also landed in the top 10.

On the women's side, Olympic track champion Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands won with 2:13:44.

Sunday's race was Kiptum's third marathon ever and his first in the U.S. In April, Kiptum delieveredthe second fastest time in marathon history with 2:01:25 at the London Marathon.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.