Scott Arnald of Guelph can usually be seen at the starting line of Speed River Track and Field Club events, starter's pistol in hand ready to get races going.
But when the starting gun sounded for the annual Boston Marathon Monday, the 34-year-old was off and running.
A little over two and a half hours later, he was the first Canadian to cross the finishing line.
"It's definitely one of those things that after the race you think, 'That's kind of neat.' That wasn't a focus or a goal going in," Arnald said Tuesday morning. "There are a lot of people across the country, men and women, that can run faster than I did yesterday. It really depends on who's in the field in Boston, I just happened to be the fastest yesterday."
Arnald finished 54th overall with a time of two hours, 33 minutes and 46 seconds which was 21 minutes longer than it took winner Lemi Berhanu Hayle of Ethiopia to complete the 42.195-kilometre course. The Guelphite credited discipline for his strong showing.
"The first four or five miles are significantly downhill," he said. "It's really easy to go out way too fast. I knew that going in so I wanted to be controlled in those first few miles and not go out too fast. The downhills, it's nice running downhill but it beats up the quads pretty good and you can definitely get into trouble if you go out too fast."
The race was the second marathon ever for Arnald, a coach with the Speed River club. His first was the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2014 when he was 31st overall with a time 19 seconds slower than his clocking in Boston.
"You've got to run a qualifier for Boston so I did Scotiabank in October of 2014," he said. "That one went well and that one felt a lot easier than yesterday."
At Boston, competitors ran into a headwind most of the race and it picked up in intensity along the course.
"It was just enough that you noticed it (at the start)," Arnald said. "Then once we got into the hills a little bit past halfway, it actually started to get a little gusty and blowing pretty good."
He had a goal of running the first half in about an hour and 16 minutes and was a few seconds over that. However, the blustery conditions took their toll.
"I just knew the way my legs felt at halfway that I wasn't going to run 1:16 again," he said. "I had a couple of 10k stretches through the hills that were a bit slower, but regrouped for the last few miles. Once you get through the hills, the last four miles or so are back downhill so I was able to regroup pretty well the last little bit to finish decent."
The support the runners receive from the crowd that lined the course likely helped Arnald regroup.
"The crowds were amazing," he said. "Along the whole course at no point is it lonely out there. It's incredible the support the city gives the marathon."
Arnald ran the event as part of an anniversary of sorts with a group of former University of Waterloo runners.
"A bunch of us got together and decided that we'd do it. We knew we all had to qualify and all had to get in shape to qualify," he said. "We had eight guys that went to Waterloo together that graduated almost 10 years ago get together here in Boston and everyone managed to qualify."
However, none were faster than Arnald.
Josh Cassidy of Guelph finished 11th overall in the men's wheelchair race in 1:36:59.
Jennifer Schneider was the top Guelph woman across the line. Schneider completed the course in a time of 3:25:23.
In total there were 17 runners from Guelph that took part in this year's event.