Kenya's Ruth Chepngetich ended Ethiopia's dominance at Dubai Marathon when she won the women's race in a course record breaking time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 07 seconds.
The time makes Chepng'etich the third fastest woman in the history of marathon after Briton Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25) and Kenya's Mary Keitany (2:17:01).
Chepng'etich, who will pocket $100,000 (Sh10 million) for the course record, is the first Kenya woman to win the race since Delilah Asiago in 2006.
She outclassed a horde of Ethiopian athletes with Worknesh Debele and Worknesh Gurmesa finishing in second and third places in 2:17:40 and 2:21:00 respectively.
Ethiopia's Getaneh Molla won the men's race ahead of compatriot Herpassa Kitesa Negasa. The men's race became a two-horse race in the closing stages with Molla winning in a new course record of 2:03:34 while Herpassa Negasa clocked 2:03:41.
Chepng’etich, who had finished second behind compatriot Betsy Saina at Paris Marathon in April last year, went to Dubai confident after defending the Istanbul Marathon two months ago.
Chepng’etich defended her Turkish capital title in November by bettering the course record she set the previous year.
Chepng’etich made her marathon debut in Istanbul in 2017 where she set a new course record of 2:22:36 before improving the time to 2:19:35 last year to affirm her long distance prowess.
It was the first time the 24-year-old was taking part in the race.
“I have only heard of the Dubai Marathon but it’s my first time here," Chepng'etich said at the launch ceremony on Wednesday. "I am looking forward to a fast timing and good result."
What makes Chepng'etich's success even more remarkable is that she has never trained under a regular coach, and does not intend to do so in the near future. Which begs the question: who mentored her?
"I didn’t have a coach. It was basically my friends from whom I learnt a lot on the art of running," she said. "I liked running, running and running. It came naturally to me. I trained because I loved running."
And a lot of running she did in her formative years - first in road races while at school to the big competitions in Kenya by 2014.
Chepng’etich trains in Ngong, a town around 25 kilometres south-west of capital Nairobi, where the terrain is hilly. It is one of the reasons why she fancied her chance on Dubai's flat course.
She started her road racing at Rabat Half Marathon on March 13, 2016 where she finished fourth in 1:11:33 before claiming second place at Standard Chartered Nairobi Half Marathon in 1:14:13 on October 30.
Come 2017, Chepng’etich won Adana Half Marathon in Turkey in a time of 1:09:06 on January 8 and went on to win Paris Half Marathon in 1:08:08 on March 5 and Milano Stramilano Half Marathon in 1:07:42 on March 19 in Italy.
Chepng’etich was back at Istanbul Half Marathon where she won in 1:06:19 on April 30 but settled third at Bogotá Half Marathon in 1:13:57 on July 30 in Colombia.
She warmed up for her Istanbul Marathon debut with a fourth place finish at Lisboa Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in 1:10:33 on October 15.
She would sweep to victory at Istanbul Marathon in a course record time of 2:22:36.
She started her 2018 season with a second place finish at Nyahururu Memorial Samuel Wanjiru then represented Kenya for the first time at the World Half Marathon Championships on March 24 in Valencia, Spain where she finished 13th in 1:09:12.
She tackled her second marathon in Paris where she finished second in 2:22:59 on April 8, then wound fifth at Copenhagen Half Marathon in 1:07:02 on September 16 before staging her successful defence of his Istanbul Marathon title in a course record time of 2:18:35 on November 11.