By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – CJ Albertson of Fresno, California made a name for himself at the Boston Marathon Monday. He didn’t win, but he got quite a bit of attention by bolting out to the front of the men’s race at the start in Hopkinton and holding that lead all by himself until Heartbreak Hill.

Albertson, who turned 28 Monday, quickly had spectators asking “Who is that guy?” as he tore through the first mile in just 4 minutes and 30 seconds and separated himself from the pack immediately.

CJ Albertson opened up a huge lead in the first few miles of the Boston Marathon Monday. (WBZ-TV)

And he kept that gap for more than half the race, leading all alone into the Newton Hills.

The pack caught CJ Albertston on Heartbreak Hill after he led for more than the first half of the Boston Marathon. (WBZ-TV)

But that’s where the pack of some of the world’s best marathoners caught him.

He held on to finish his first Boston Marathon in tenth place.

“I’m the best downhill runner in the world and I honestly wholeheartedly believe that. I wasn’t running hard, I’m just really good at downhills. I knew that if I hung back with the pack, anytime we hit a hill I’d hit a drop and there was no way I’d be competitive at all,” he told WBZ-TV’s David Wade after the race.

“I wanted to run 19 minutes for the first four miles and was a little quicker than that. I didn’t realize how much downhill there was. I just ran my race. I tried to stay steady on the uphills – I’m not great at those and need to get better on them. But you run to your strengths so I ran the downhills as best I could. I was able to come back when the leaders passed me and used that last 10k downhill.”

Albertston said he was tired heading into Newton, but he “didn’t care about the hills at all.”

“I knew I wasn’t going to be the best in the field up the hills so I just chilled and tried to get up them, and knew on the downhills I could make up a ton of time or put a ton of time on people. So I executed what I wanted to,” he said.

CJ Albertson crosses the finish line at the 125th Boston Marathon on October 11, 2021. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

“I didn’t feel chill, but I wasn’t trying to fly up. The other guys can run a 4:40 pace up Heartbreak Hill and I’m not that kind of runner so I had to run differently. Realistically, tenth is good for me.”

In addition to his top ten finish and his birthday, Albertson and his wife are expecting a baby in three weeks.

CBSBoston.com Staff