Daniel Njenga of Kenya collapsed into the arms of GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon officials yesterday, spent and unable to speak after running the 42.2-kilometre race in two hours, 29:02 minutes.
It wasn't even close to a personal best for the 32-year-old marathon veteran -- that was a 2:06:16 in the Tokyo International Marathon in 2002 -- but it might have been his most difficult.
Mumbi Kinyanjui, speaking on behalf of her nephew said Njenga just wanted to "thank God" for surviving the gruelling race through the streets of Toronto.
"He only just arrived for the race (on Friday) so he is exhausted," she said.
Kinyanjui said that Njenga wanted to finish first and that he had used up every bit of energy in his body to make it to the end.
"He is very happy," she said. "He now wants to get a massage because his legs were cramping right at the finish line."
As photographers scurried to get images of Njenga in the agony of his victory, Kinyanjui rushed to his side to offer her support and to help take him to the medical tent that was set up at the Queen's Park finish line.
A doctor and a nurse checked Njenga thoroughly and ask Kinyanjui to translate what the runner was feeling.
When it was established that he was cramping, officials called in a masseuse to ease the race winner's pain.
Yesterday wasn't the first time Njenga was the object of media attention in North America. In 2007, he was one of several long distance runners who were featured in the documentary Spirit of the Marathon.
Kinyanjui also said her nephew may not have been as prepared for yesterday's marathon as he had in the past.
"He had contacted race officials to enter the race, but he had to fly halfway around the world to get here," she said.
Njenga has been living and training in Japan for much of the past decade and only recently returned to Kenya with his wife Monicah.
"(Toronto) was a chance for him to leave home again, to earn a living" Kinyanjui said.
Although she said Njenga must travel the world to race, it is Kenya where his heart belongs.
"He uses any money he gets from running to help build schools," she said.
Toronto's James Nielsen was second overall behind Njenga at 2:30:04.None of yesterday's times threatened the race record of 2:19:17.
British runner Dawn Richardson won the women's race in a time of 2:57:47.