IT WAS a day of firsts in the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k – a new course, an international field, and a winner who had never competed outside of Kenya before now.
Frankline Keitany toed the line in his first race on foreign soil, and provided the shock of the day by giving favourite Timothy Toroitich a real run for his money and a cat and mouse battle which led to a thrilling sprint finish in front of Millennium Point in the Second City.
Keitany, 24, won in 28.41 with Toroitich crossing the line a second behind. Clowes, representing England in a race that outlined Birmingham's intentions to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, finished an impressive third in 30.00.
Caroline Kipkirui secured victory in a Kenyan 1-2-3 for the women's race, with Violah Jepchumba and Lucy Cheruiyot second and third respectively.
Kipkirui finished 12 seconds ahead of Jepchumba, posting 30.45 with Jepchumba 30.57 and Cheruiyot in 32.17.
Little is known about Keitany, whose only notable result before today was a second-place finish in the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country in January, but he went all out for the win from the starting gun, as he and Toroitich shared the lead throughout the fast and flat 10k.
The pair seized the initiative and passed 5km in 14.30, with Clowes 28 seconds behind.
There were points of the race where Toroitich and Keitany were almost hand in hand as no quarter was given from either party, but with 400m to go, it became a straight sprint finish, with Keitany edging aside the Ugandan team captain at the recent World Cross Country Championships on the line in dramatic fashion.
In the women's race, the die was cast early on as the Kenyan trio of Jepchumba, Cheruiyot and Kipkirui quickly stretched into a lead, recording a 2.50 opening kilometre.
Kipkirui was fresh from pacing duties at the London Marathon a week earlier, helping winner Mary Keitany race into a hugely-impressive lead in the capital which resulted in a women's only world record, and she showed no tiredness in Birmingham as she set the tone from start to finish, posting a devastating 2.50 opening kilometre.
The British duo of Katrina Wootton and Gemma Steel were the best of the domestic runners, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
But all eyes were on the front three, which became two as Kipkirui and Jepchumba passed 5k in 15.05 ahead of Cheruiyot, with Wootton and Steel almost two minutes behind as the race reached its halfway point.
With three kilometres to go, Kipkirui started to turn the screw, easing ahead of Jepchumba, who earlier this year recorded the second fastest half marathon time of the year, and the fifth fastest of all-time.
But Kipkirui, whose 10k split in last weekend's marathon was only a second off her 10,000m PB, had shown her credentials and was a class act on the day, smashing her best in style, crossing the line in 30.45.