With 2008 champion Martin Lel ruled out because of a hip injury, fellow Kenyan Wanjiru was pre-race favourite to take the win after he finished nine seconds behind Lel in a sprint finish up the Mall last year.
And it was Wanjiru who led the field from the start as the pace setters started at blistering speed, running 45 seconds below world record pace after 45 minutes.
By the mid-way point Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie's six-month-old world record of 2:03.59 looked like it could be in serious danger.
Wanjiru aiming for world record next time
"From the start the pace was good but the last 10km were very hard, the course was up and down and I ran alone," Wanijuru commented.
The three Olympic medallists Kebede, Wanjiru and Gharib pulled away to battle it out after 18 miles, still on pace to set run a world record time, but the early pace began to take a toll as the three slowed.
Wanjiru and Kebede battled it out over the final three miles until finally Wanjiru burst clear to cross the line in the seventh fastest marathon time ever run.
Kebede followed him in second with Moroccan Gharib in third, both finishing in personal best times.
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