Cameron Levins’s Canadian record at the 2022 World Championships Marathon
On July 17, Cam Levins, 33, shattered his own Canadian record in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore., running 2:07:09 and finishing fourth. It was more than two minutes off his previous record of 2:09:25 (set at the 2018 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon) and Levins only missed the medal podium by 22 seconds. It was the best performance ever by a Canadian at a world championships or Olympic marathon. The road to Eugene was not smooth. But Levins told Kate Van Buskirk, producer and host of The Shakeout Podcast, that he always knew he had it in him to perform on a level with the best in the world. The 2012 Olympian, who, at 23, had finished in the top 15 in both the 5,000m and the 10,000m, and then struggled with repeated injuries in the years leading to his first Canadian record, had some lacklustre performances in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020. He only achieved the Olympic marathon standard with a week left in the qualification period, and struggled in Sapporo’s extreme heat and humidity, going out with the leaders but fading to 72nd out of 76 finishers. (Thirty runners did not finish.)
Levins came home determined to improve every aspect of his training. “I realized how much better they were than me,” he said, referring to the men who dominated the Olympic marathon—not just two-time gold medallist and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, but also bronze medallist Bashir Abdi (who would take bronze again in Eugene), the former Japanese record holder Suguru Osako (who finished sixth) and 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Galen Rupp (eighth)—basically everyone in the top 10. “Coming into this championships,” he says about Worlds, “I was just a completely different athlete.”
Levins increased his training volume to between 170 and 180 miles (270 to 290 km per week), started strength training to address i mbalances i n his stride (which he admits he had neglected since his days at the now-defunct Nike Oregon Project) and, before even starting his build-up for the world championships, worked on his track speed at shorter distances. He says that training for a few 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m races helped him handle the changes of pace in the marathon better than he did in Sapporo, where the repeated surges to get to his drink bottles sapped his energy. He also focused on fuelling and recovering better, which helped him avoid the injuries that had plagued him earlier in his career.
In Eugene, Levins could be seen keeping pace with the lead pack through 30 km, looking calm and comfortable. When the eventual winner, Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola, kicked hard with about eight kilometres to go, no one went with him. But Levins hung with Mosinet Geremew and Abdi, who would win silver and bronze, until the last few kilometres. When he crossed the line with 2:07 on the clock, it was a brilliant and euphoric moment for him and for all Canadian running fans—and Levins promises there is more to come.