Kenya was poor in the last two IAAF World Athletics Championship, but this time, they seem better.

Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui won the men's world marathon on Sunday, making up for his country's podium no-show in the last two championships.

Kirui, this season's Boston marathon winner, clocked 2hr 08min 27sec for gold, 1min 22sec ahead of Ethiopian rival Tamirat Tola.

Alphonce Simbu of Tanzania claimed bronze, just 2sec adrift of Tola after 42km around a 10km Thames river embankment loop in central London in glorious sunshine.

"This is the best moment of my career, easily," said Kirui.

"I am so happy to win the world title because it is my first time at these championships. This was the best course and the best crowd I have seen at a marathon.

"I was not expecting to be world champion. I feared the Ethiopian because he had such a fast time, so I just followed my plan to 35km and then felt my body to see how I was doing. Good for me it responded well."

Kirui added: "Winning this title has been my goal for so long. Now my goal will be to repeat it."

Tola, the Olympic bronze medallist at 10,000m and fastest in the field here with his season's best of 2:04.11, led the field through the halfway point in 1:05.28, accompanied by Kenyans Kirui and Gideon Kipketer, with this year's London champion Daniel Wanjiru a couple of seconds back.

At the 1:38 mark, Tola surged to open up a 20-metre lead on Kirui, but the Kenyan gradually reeled the Ethiopian back in and spurted past him to become the fifth gold medallist from the east African powerhouse in the marathon.

"I was smart not to follow the Ethiopian," Kirui said of Tola's initial surge, with his rival blaming an old leg injury for eventually falling off the Kenyan's new pace.

"When he tried to take off I knew I had to hit my target at 35km then I started to move."