Hoka One One has landed one of Canada’s greatest men’s distance runners.
The brand famous for starting the “maximalist” shoe trend signed Cam Levins, formerly the national record holder in the 10,000m, to a sponsorship deal, it was announced on Monday. Hoka was founded in France in 2009 by two former Salomon employees, but is now owned and operated by the American corporation Deckers, which also owns the UGG and Teva brands. In recent years, Hoka has signed track athletes as well as trail and road runners, diversifying its roster as it expanded beyond the ultra-trail scene.
The 28-year-old is slated to make his professional debut for Hoka One One at the 2018 Houston Half-Marathon on Jan. 14. The 2012 Olympian was scheduled to race his debut half-marathon in Toronto in October but withdrew due to injury. Though Houston lists their race as his to-be-debut, Levins ran 1:05:07 at the Holiday Half-Marathon in Oregon in December.
Until the beginning of 2017, Levins raced for Nike and trained with the Oregon Project out of Portland, Ore., where he continues to reside. The Black Creek, B.C. native graduated from little-known Southern Utah University where he won the Bowerman Track Award for the NCAA Division One’s top track and field athlete. He trains under Eric Houle, his second stint with the SUU coach, after departing Alberto Salazar and the Oregon Project, a group that contains Galen Rupp and formerly Mo Farah.
Levins has run 27:07.51 for 10,000m and 13:15.19 for 5,000m and is famous for running high mileage, reaching a reported, and staggering, 305K week at one point.
After winning bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and breaking the 10,000m national record in 2015, Levins struggled with injury and had surgery on his foot after the 2016 Olympic Trials for Canada. His 2017 campaign marked his comeback to the sport and he went on to win the 2017 Canadian 5K Championships in Toronto.
According to Hoka One One’s elite athlete page, Levins is the first Canadian track athlete to sign with the brand.
Monday’s announcement came as part of a seven-athlete addition by Hoka One One with ultrarunner Ellie Greenwood also signing with the brand. The North Vancouver, B.C. runner won the Western States 100 in 2011 and 2012 and holds the race’s course record. The two-time world 100K champion and Comrades winner formerly ran for Salomon.
Terms of the signings were not disclosed.