Last year was a forgettable one for Cam Levins.
The 28-year-old spent much of it recovering from surgery performed on his ankle to fix a nagging bone problem. That meant that, instead of competing for Canada, Levins was forced to watch the Rio Olympics 10,000m final from his sofa in Portland, Ore., where he lives at trains as a Nike athlete.
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But, as Levins tells the CBC, he’s finally training regularly again, and eying new challenges in June, including the BAA 10K on the roads of Boston and a track meet in Portland. He’s also thinking ahead to a debut in the marathon, perhaps this fall.
On the marathon: “It makes sense that it’s something to try this year.”
Levins said that the IAAF World Championships in London, where he ran well at the Olympics in 2012, is also “something I would like to do”, but cautioned that he must see the right progression first. In 2015, he tried to run through what became the ankle problem, and ended up flaming out of the Pan Am Games after going in as a heavy gold medal favourite. Continuing to run also cost his a shot at making his second Canadian Olympic team.
In 2014, Levins nearly won the Commonwealth Games 10,000m gold, showing he was capable of challenging the best in the world:
If Levins wants to run in the World Championships, he would have to qualify in either the 5,000m (the standard is 13:22.60) or the 10,000m (27:45) and race at the Canadian championships this July in Ottawa. He ran both events at the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. There, he began to show signs of slowing, finishing a disappointing 14th in the 10,000m and not making the final in the 5,000m. Levins told Canadian Running last October that he started battling the leg injury before Beijing.
As far back as 2015 at the Pan Am Games Levins hinted at his desire to become a marathoner, telling Canadian Running at the time that he has always wanted to run a marathon, and felt that debuting in Canada would also be a special experience.
On the possibility of breaking the Canadian marathon record: “I feel that when I’m in shape and prepared, yeah, I think it’s a fair target and something I can do.”
A person associated with the Nike Oregon Project, Levins’ training group, told Canadian Running in April that Levins had initially hoped to debut in Ottawa in May, but that his recovery from the surgery and training progression afterward didn’t allow for it. There was also talk of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as a good fit for Levins debut, but nothing has been confirmed.
Levins seems optimistic about the marathon. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. It’s a race I can do very well at,” Levins told the CBC. “It makes sense that it’s something to try this year.” He also said that he was inspired to see his training partners from the Oregon Project, Galen Rupp and Suguru Osako, place second and third at this year’s Boston Marathon. Osako’s performance, his debut at the distance, was particularly promising, given that his track times and progression have been very similar to Levins’. Osako ran 2:10:28 in Boston, considered to be a challenging course on a less than ideal day for running a fast time due to high temperatures throughout the race.
When asked about Drayton’s 42-year-old Canadian record, which sits at 2:10:09, haunting the current generation of Canadian marathoners including Reid Coolsaet, Dylan Wykes and Eric Gillis, Levins was cautiously optimistic and careful to be respectful of the distance. “I feel that when I’m in shape and prepared, yeah, I think it’s a fair target and something I can do. I know the marathon has some unknowns to it as well. But I feel like I have a lot of tools as a distance runner than can make me a good marathoner.”