DUBAI // Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa emerged from the morning fog yesterday to win the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
The 23-year-old completed the 42.19-kilometre race in two hours, four minutes and 45 seconds to win the US$200,000 (Dh734,600) prize - a payout that will change his life.
Desisa first found prominence in 2010 at the Zayed International Half-Marathon in Abu Dhabi but yesterday's race was a maiden attempt at full-course distance.
Having finished within one minute, 17 seconds of the world record, despite changing weather, he now aims to reassess his career.
"I never even considered 2:04 or 2:05, I was thinking 2:06, so when I saw my finish time I was hugely surprised and so happy," he said. "Now my life has changed in one day."
Desisa, born in the small, central Ethiopian town of Ambo, said he would use the money to "build a house" in Addis Ababa and "maybe get married - but only after building the house".
His compatriot, Tirfi Tsegaye, was the fastest woman of the day, crossing the line in two hours, 23 minutes and 23 seconds.
The annual event is in its 14th year. Officials said almost 20,000 people registered to take part in the marathon, 10km road race and 3km fun run. Statistics on the official website showed 12,573 recorded finish times.