James MacLellan is one of those rare people who makes running look easy.

So when he was first to cross the finish line at the Cape Breton Fiddlers Run over the weekend, no one was surprised.

“It was just so special to be able to run a marathon in my hometown,” MacLellan said.

MacLellan ran the 42-kilometre course in two hours, 33 minutes and 34 seconds -- nearly 10 minutes faster than anyone else.

His time was also about one minute quicker than his previous personal best - at the Fredericton Marathon in May.

The 31-year-old started running about a decade ago but has only gotten really serious about it the past few years.

“I used to be a weightlifter,” MacLellan said. “So in 2012, at one point, I was around 200 pounds. My sister signed me up for the Marion Bridge 10k and gave me two weeks’ notice! So from there, it just kind of grabbed a hold of me.”

This spring, MacLellan finally moved back home to Cape Breton after nearly 10 years in New Brunswick - where he was in the military.

Now, he is making strides towards a career change.

“I’m looking at becoming a pastor,” said MacLellan, who just began his studies at Acadia University through correspondence.

He hopes to become a pastor in three or four years.

He says his faith has impacted his approach to running, too.

“I believe God has given me a gift to run, and if I can use that gift to serve him, then that would be great,” MacLellan said.

MacLellan not only won the Fiddlers Run, he broke the course record by a whopping 10 minutes.

He says he's just as happy it happened here at home with his family watching at the finish line.

“They cheered me on throughout the course,” MacLellan said. “Just having them there meant a lot to me.”

Now that he's seeing more of his loved ones, he says the physical and mental benefits of running are rubbing off on them, too.

“Now my sister is getting into running and I've just seen her sign up for the Fiddlers,” he said. “And now she's hooked, and wants to run more.”

As for his racing strategy, he says it's pretty simple.

“When I cross that finish line, I don't want to have anything left in me,” MacLellan said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.