Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie became the first teenager to win an Olympic or World Championships marathon, shocking the Kenyan and Ethiopian favorites to open the meet in Beijing on Saturday.
Ghebreslassie, 19, won the first Olympic or World Track and Field Championships gold medal for his country. He crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 27 seconds, winning by 40 seconds over Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay.
The pre-race favorites finished more than two minutes behind, led by reigning Olympic and defending World champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda (sixth place; 2:14:42) and two-time Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia (seventh; 2:14:53).
Reigning New York City Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang and world-record holder Dennis Kimetto, both of Kenya, failed to finish. Kimetto set the world record of 2:02:57 at the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 28.
Ghebreslassie came into the race Saturday with a personal best over 26.2 miles of 2:07:47, set when he finished second at the Hamburg Marathon on April 26.
The fall marathon season will begin in earnest with the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11.