With all the rain, brisk wind and touches of overnight frost the Sault has seen in recent weeks, residents may have been wondering if things would ever get hot in the Lock City.
But local runner Nathan Mudge is already more than warmed up. The 31-year-old will have already run in three races this year when he hits the starting line Sunday for the Run the Great Lakes half-marathon.
At the end of March, Mudge was 35th out of more than 2,500 runners at the 30-kilometre Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton.
In late April, he was first overall at the Cabin Fever five-kilometre race at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
In late May, Mudge was third in the open men's division at the Bayshore 10-kilometre race in Traverse City, Mich.
Sunday's event starts at 8:30 a. m. at the Waterfront Inn. Tenkilometre and five-kilometre races begin at 9:30 p. m.
"It has been going pretty good so far," Mudge said. "I'm looking forward to Sunday. Hopefully it will be pretty competitive."
Mudge's own participation will go a long way to making it so. With a time of 1:20:38, he was second overall in last year's halfmarathon, just over a minute behind race winner Mike De- Vuono.
But DeVuono, 53, won't be competing Sunday, due to a recent knee surgery.
"I'm on the road to recovery, but I'm not going to run it," De- Vuono said. "I wish I could.
"I am running, but it's just maintenance running right now, nothing competitive."
News of DeVuono's absence disappointed Mudge, who was hoping for another crack at the champion.
"I thought he was recovered," Mudge said. "That's too bad."
David Gallant was third in last year's men's race, crossing the finish line at 1:22:53.
Jennifer Entwistle, another local, topped the women's side of the half-marathon last year, crossing the line at 1:34:53.
"I just want to stay busy," said Entwistle, who will run in her third race of the year on Sunday. "You never know who will show up, so I can't say I'm out to win. But I want to keep running and support a local race."
Janice McKay was second in last year's women's race, with a time of 1:37:11. Misha Coppens came in third, at 1:37:21
Perhaps hampered by the weather, registration for this year's 11th running of the local races has been slower than last year.
Fees are $40 for the halfmarathon and $25 for the five or 10-kilometre races. Event shirts and refreshments will be provided to competitors.
Registrations will be accepted at Athletes Foot in the Station Mall until the day of the event, although the supply of shirts will be limited.
For more information, visit www.saultstryders.com or call 942-3934.
"It's hard, because there's a lot of competition for the races," Mudge said. "A lot of other races are appealing, and you get people who have run the same races a few times and want to try something different.
"And if you have someone who ran a half or a full marathon two weeks ago, they won't be recovered enough for this one."