Less than a year after missing out on a place at London 2012, Tsegaye Kebede timed his finish to perfection to win the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday.
The 26-year-old was 49 seconds adrift in fifth place at the 35km mark, his chances of success seemingly fading fast, but he chased down runaway leader Emmanuel Mutai, passing the Kenyan in the final mile.
He came home in two hours, six minutes and four seconds.
In crisp, clear conditions, the tiring Mutai, who hit the front between the 36 and 37km marks, hung on for second place, 29 seconds back, with Kebede’s fellow Ethiopian Ayele Abshero third.
It was Kebede’s second victory in the capital after winning in 2010 and he said: “I had a little pain in my side during the early part of the race, but as time went on it got better and better.
“I could feel myself getting closer and closer to Mutai and that made me stronger. It was a great day to run the London Marathon and even better to win.”
Following on from last October’s Chicago Marathon triumph, it was another message for the Ethiopian selectors, none of whose three picks for the Olympic team, including Abshero, finished the race last summer.
It was a strong field to beat as well, featuring the two fastest men in history in Kenyan duo Patrick Makau and Wilson Kipsang.
Derek Hawkins was the first Briton home in 13th place, with Olympian Scott Overall dropping out just after halfway.
A “very disappointed” Mutai said: “I thought I might win today, but could not pick up the pace in the late stages.”
The build-up to today’s race were overshadowed by the attacks at Monday’s Boston Marathon which killed three people and there was a moving 30 seconds’ silence ahead of the start of the elite men’s and mass races in memory of the victims.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo went one better than her London 2012 silver with victory.
The 28-year-old clocked 2hrs 20mins 15secs to win comfortably ahead of her fellow countrywoman Edna Kiplagat.
She said: “I knew this morning I was going to run well, but there was such a good field you were worried someone would do better. It wasn’t until around 25 miles that I got that confidence back and felt I would win.”
Japan’s Yikiko Akaby was a surprise third, with Olympic champion Tiki Gelana paying the price for a nasty fall.
The Ethiopian collided with wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy after 15 kilometres and fell to the road as she cut inside to get to a drinks station and that cost her later in the race.
Jeptoo’s time was the fastest in the world this year, but there was also reason to cheer for Susan Partridge – the first Briton home in ninth.
Her time of 2:30.46 was a huge personal best and inside the qualifying time for August’s World Championships in Moscow, sealing her place on the plane.
She told Press Association Sport: “As I got close and realised how close I was (to the 2:31.00 qualifying time), then I was calculating, ‘How fast can I run 200m at the end of a marathon?’ and I was like, ‘I think I can do this,’ so I was happy.
“It is exciting crossing the line and knowing I’ve got the qualifying time and getting in the top 10 for the first time.”
Amy Whitehead was the second Briton home in 13th in 2:34.14.