Gebremeskel finished in a time of 7:35.37 to hold off Farah, who clocked 7:35.81. The Ethiopian lost his right shoe early in the race but pressed with a finishing burst with one foot shod only in a sock.
“It’s really hard to run in one shoe,” Gebremeskel, 21, said afterwards.
Somalia-born Farah, while disappointed with second place, was encouraged by the swift pace in his first race of the year.
“Right at the end he came right past me, in a different gear,” Farah said. “I’m quite surprised by the pace.”
In the men’s mile, New Zealand’s Nick Willis, the pre-race favourite and the 2008 Olympic silver medallist over 1500m, faded to third.
Instead, American Russell Brown, 25, ran 3:54.81 for a surprise win over compatriot Garrett Heath (3:55.87). For both U.S. runners, the marks were personal bests.
Brown, originally from Hanover, New Hampshire, said he gave himself “outside odds” to win the race but was inspired by the tradition of the Boston track and a bevy of family and friends in the stands.
“As a Northeast guy, indoor running is important, and it’s exciting, and this is the place to do it,” said Brown, who has struggled with chronic calf injuries in recent years.
The Boston event, which has hosted six world records and 28 national records over 16 years, was back in a diminished capacity after a last-minute sponsorship change to New Balance from long-time backer Reebok.
Marina Muncan of Serbia staged a last-second surge to win the women’s mile in 4:34.46, pipping Canadian Carmen Douma-Hussar who clocked 4:34.53.
“I just saw Carmen out there and told myself ‘why not,'” Muncan said of her late kick.
Sally Kipyego of Kenya was just outside her personal best winning the women’s 3,000m in 8:49.74 from American Jenny Simpson (8:50.78) and Canada’s Megan Wright (8:52.01).
American Jenn Sehr had little competition in the women’s pole vault, clearing 4.61, short of her mark at last week’s Millrose Games in New York. She narrowly failed in a long-shot attempt to set a U.S. indoor record at 4.84.
In the women’s 400m, U.S. runner Natasha Hastings won in a meet record of 51.88 from countrywoman DeeDee Trotter (52.37) to log the fastest time for an American this year.
Veteran U.S. sprinter Lauryn Williams, a 2004 Olympic silver medallist in the 100m, edged Marshevet Myers in the women’s 60m dash.
Americans also dominated the men’s sprints. Trell Kremmons pulled away in the 60m dash in 6.60 seconds, backing up a win at the Millrose Games and beating countrymen Chris Davis (6.66) and Ivory Williams (6.68).
Calvin Smith smoked the men’s 300m sprint in 32.93, the world’s fastest time of the year at the infrequently-run distance. Joshua Scott was second in 33.45.
At another ‘in-between’ distance, Duane Solomon clocked a world best this year with 1:17.00 in the men’s 600m, pulling away from Tevan Everett in 1:17.44.