As Nathan Mudge crossed the finish line at the 2011 Boston Marathon on Monday, he was, "happy it was over."
After all, the 33-year-old Saultite had pushed himself, "pretty hard," to run the best marathon of his career, placing 176th among 26,907 runners in the 2011 Boston Marathon. With a time of two hours, 37 minutes and 37 seconds, he shaved nearly four minutes off his previous best, last year's time of 2:41:21. Among the 2011 race's 15,445 male competitors, Mudge was 156th, and among his age division (18-39) he was 132th to cross the finish line.
"I thought for sure I was going to need a wheelchair when I crossed the line. Coming up to it my legs were so tired," said Mudge, reached Monday by phone at his Boston hotel room.
Mudge had the top finish among the nine Saultites who completed the race, and was the sixth Canadian to cross the finish line.
Monday's race was Mudge's third Boston Marathon, despite having started running only five years ago. This is his second straight year running in Boston. He ran his first Boston Marathon in 2008.
Mudge said he knew things were going well when he reached the race's notorious Heartbreak Hill, the last of what are known as the four "Newton hills", and felt, "pretty good."
"I knew I had essentially saved a minute off my first half that I could give up going up the hill, so I didn't feel the need to push myself too hard," he said.
"You don't know until you're done (the Newton hills) whether you're going to have anything left for the final 10 kilometres," Mudge said.
That was his plan going in. The first part of the race is heavy on downhill sections that sap a runner's reserves, so Mudge was trying to shave a minute or two off his target time in that section to be in better shape for the uphills in the middle of the race.
Heartbreak Hill, he said, lives up to its reputation.
"What I find is actually coming down the backside is more painful because your quads are burned by then and every time your foot hits you can feel the throbbing pain in your quads," he said.
How does one celebrate such an accomplishment?
"We definitely had a celebratory drink when we were done. But after a Marathon, it's not like you can have more than one beer anyway," said Mudge. "It's not that enjoyable, believe me."
Theresa Mudge, Nathan's wife, said conditions Monday were great.
"It was a beautiful day. I think it was about 14 Celcius, so a little hot at the start, but it clouded over at the end, so very good conditions for running," said Theresa.
Theresa, 32, who trained all winter with her husband, was 11,311th to finish the race, clocking a time of 3:42:59, an improvement over last year.
Nathan said a good winter of training likely helped him improve his time this year, though he said he is considering taking a break from running in Boston next year.
He said other Saultites also had successful runs.
"Everybody from the Sault had a great race. It was a good day for all of them," he said.
The Mudges are among nine Saulties listed as having finished the race.
Brad Entwistle, now living in London, finished 1,178th, with a time of 2:57:33. His wife, Jennifer, was 3,456th overall, with a time of 3:12:36.
Steven Demidovich, 34, finished 4,199th, with a time of 3:16:31.
Jim Walsh, 45, was 4,681th, with a time of 3:18:42.
Linda Walsh, 44, placed 5,141, with a time of 3:20:42.
Misha Demidovich, placed 13,008, with a time of 3:48:53.
Alison Rains finished 15,995, with a time of 3:59:26.