Dennis Kipruto Koech, an 18-year-old Kenyan in his first race outside his home country, eased away from the competition at the 15-kilometre mark yesterday to win the wind-blown Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon.
Mary Keitany completed a Kenya sweep of the top spots by winning the women's competition, though the London Marathon champion failed to match her world and course-record time from 2011.
Keitany was on record pace for much of yesterday's race before head winds and an overly optimistic early pace knocked her back, and she finished in one hour, six minutes and 49 seconds, 59 seconds off her world record but 2:24 ahead of the runner-up Georgina Rona, a Kenyan who was one second ahead of another compatriot, Gladys Cherona.
Asked if she knew she were on a record pace through 10km, Keitany said: "No. But the wind was very bad in the second half."
The victory by Koech on the men's side was unexpected, but was aided by the failure of Geoffrey Mutai to start the race.
Mutai, the winner here in 2010 and of the Boston and New York marathons last year, had spoken of a nagging foot injury, a legacy of the tough course negotiated at last week's San Blas Half Marathon.
The other surprise was the slow pace mounted by a field containing nine sub-one-hour half-marathoners, allowing the unheralded Koech to remain with the leading pack.
Feyisa Lelisa, a noticeably muscled Ethiopian, who made for a strange sight among the linear Kenyan frames, attacked at the 10km mark, and the lead pack of 12 quickly disintegrated.
Only Koech was able to absorb the surge of the year's fastest man (first in Houston last month in 59:22) and then leave him behind, opening a gap before 15km.
Azmeraw Bekele of Ethiopia mounted a late charge, but Koech could not be reeled in, crossing the line in an untroubled 60:40.
Although the time was by 48 seconds the slowest winning time in six stagings of the RAK event, it was a personal best by 40 seconds for the farmer's son and running partner of Mutai.
He was awarded $15,000 (Dh55,000) for the victory. Bekele finished nine seconds back of the winner.
Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich of Kenya was third in 1:01:01 and another Kenyan, Bernard Kipyego, was fourth in 1:01:29. Lelisa faded to fifth.
Runners from 86 nations participated in yesterday's race on the nearly flat RAK circuit, including 122 relay teams.