Dejene Berhanu ran the fourth-fastest half-marathon in history and smashed the course record as he romped to victory at the Great North Run.
Dejene Berhanu finished fifth in the 5,000m at the Olympics
The 23-year-old, who took the lead after only five miles, crossed the line in a time of 59 minutes and 37 seconds to become the first Ethiopian winner.
Last year's winner Hendrick Ramaala, of South Africa, pipped France's Smail Sghir to take second place in 61:38.
Britain's Jon Brown ran a creditable race to come sixth in 63:30.
Berhanu, who only decided to participate after last week's World Cup final in Monaco, knocked more than 20 seconds off the course best set by Paul Kosgei in 2002.
Berhanu was unaware he was the first from his country to have won the event.
He said: "I am very happy to be the first Ethiopian to win."
Brown, the first British runner to cross the line, revealed that he lost two places when he stopped for a toilet break after 10 miles.
Johnson claimed some consolation for a poor Olympics
But the 33-year-old said he was "quite surprised" with his race after doing little training following his fourth-placed finish in the marathon at the Olympic Games.
Matt Smith was seventh in 1:04.08 while John Mayock finished 23 seconds behind in a highly-respectable ninth, just 24 hours after competing in the Great North Mile.
Australia's Benita Johnson broke away from a cluster of Ethiopian and Kenyan runners to win the women's race in impressive style.
The world cross-country champion held her form superbly to win in a new personal best of 67 minutes and 55 seconds.
Edith Masai came home second in 68:27 and her fellow Kenyan and former Great North champion Susan Chetkemi was third in 68:32.
Johnson was seeking to atone for her disappointing 24th-place finish in the 10,000m in Athens.
She said: "I really enjoyed the race and I came back strongly after a disappointing Olympics.
"I have a few more races coming up so it's a good start to the autumn season."
Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan finished strongly to take sixth place in 68:55 while Kathy Butler edged out Charlotte Dale to become the first British athlete home in a personal best of 71:22.
Men's leading positions:
1 D Berhanu (Eth) 59mins 37secs
2 H Ramaala (SA) 61:38
3 I Sghyr (Fra) 61:39
4 S Ponui (Ken) 63:21
5 M Geilan (Ned) 63:21
6 J Brown (GB) 63:30
7 M Smith (GB) 64:08
8 M Quaadi (Fra) 64:23
9 J Mayock (GB) 64:31
10 P Jacobs (GB) 64:42
Women's Leading Positions:
1 B Johnson (Aus) 67mins 55secs
2 E Masai (Ken) 68:27
3 S Chepkenmei (Ken) 68:32
4 D Tulu (Eth) 68:35
5 B Adere (Eth) 68:48
6 S O'Sullivan (Ire) 68:55
7 J Prokopcuka (Lat) 69:22
8 K Butler (GB) 71:24
9 C Dale (GB) 71:47
10 B Dagne (GB) 72:20
Men's Wheelchair Leading Positions:
1 K Herriot (GB) 45mins 37secs
2 T Patel (GB) 52:11
3 J Richards (GB) 53:00
Women's Wheelchair Leading Positions:
1 G Wallengren (Swi) 52mins 14secs
2 S Woods (GB) 53:04
3 H Desmond (GB) 72:09