Dubai - Middle distance legend Kenenisa Bekele, who was aiming to add the marathon world record to his 5 000m and 10 000m records, limped out of the Dubai event on Friday after a fall.
The Ethiopian, who missed the world record by six seconds in Berlin last September, fell right at the start after being tripped from behind.
He lost contact with the leading group before the 10km mark and then dropped out at around 23km and was seen holding his left calf.
Event director Ahmed al-Kamali said he was saddened by Bekele's "surprise" exit but was proud to have been involved in organising a race that now qualified "among the three top marathons in the world".
Dubai offers big prize money to those who make the podium - $200 000 for the winners, $80 000 for second place and $40 000 for third.
Bekele's disappointment did not prevent a clean sweep for Ethiopia which took the top three positions in both men's and women's events.
In the men's event, Tamirat Tola, 25, won with a course record of 2:04:11, improving his personal best by more than two minutes.
"I'm happy because this is a good race and I win," an elated Tola told AFP.
Fellow Ethiopians Mule Wasihun and Sisay Lemma finished in second and third positions with 2:06:46 and 2:08:04 respectively.
The women's event saw another upset with 26-year-old Worknesh Degefa winning in a time of 2:22:36 in her very first marathon.
Compatriots Shure Demise and Yebrgual Melese took the other podium places with times of 2:22:57 and 2:23:13.