© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated
The highly entertaining running pundits have finally ceased discussing Cameron Levins’ voracious weekly mileage and have moved back onto his prodigious talent; especially his kick. But for now, in reflection, he was running as much as 160 miles per week (260km) while still in University. That particular mileage volume is high, so he must have accomplished something significant to change the collective topic.
Since joining the pertinacious Alberto Salazar and his Nike Oregon Project on April 4, 2013, Levins of Black Creek, BC got his first real taste of international success this summer. He did so by elating track fans when he won 10,000m bronze in a blanket finish with two proven international competitors at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He finished in the time of 27:56.23. Having led the race during the final lap he only got passed at the very end, after a brilliant sprint that started with roughly half of a lap to go in the 25-lap race. As is his usual tact, he sat in the back and waited, then unleashed his prodigious kick.
Monday morning quarterbacks everywhere believe that earning silver or even gold was simply a matter of Levins blocking lane one – which could be argued he didn’t do – or not looking back with 100m to go – an unwritten rule of armchair eggheads everywhere. His nice-guy and honest reputation suggest that Levins would prefer to win fair and square, or in this case win bronze fair and square; his international victories are surely to come.
In the field, Levins was up against a strong line-up that included Moses Kipsiro of Uganda and Josphat Kipkoech Bett of Kenya, who went 1-2 in 27:56.11 and 27:56.14, respectively. He was also up against Kenyan Paul Kirui, who has run as fast as 27:25.63 and countryman Mohammed Ahmed, who finished 5th. Ahmed from St. Catharines, Ontario has run the distance as fast as 27:34.64. During the Glasgow games Ahmed also raced the 5,000m distance, where he again finished in 5th position in a personal best time of 13:18.88. Levins had to be proud of his teammate, Ahmed’s performances were outstanding. Levins told the Canadian Press, “The great thing about him is he’s as happy for me as I’d be for him in the same position. Hopefully next time we’re up there on the podium together.”
Levin’s near win against international talent in Glasgow bodes well for his future World championships and Olympic competitions. He now stacks up, for example Kipsiro won gold in both the 10,000m and 5,000m events at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. He also won bronze in the 5,000m event during the 2007 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that took place in Osaka, Japan. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he finished 4th in the 5,000m. His personal best in the 10,000m is the 123rd all-time fastest at 27:04.48, which he accomplished two years ago in Birmingham, UK. His 5,000m best is 12:50.72, which he ran in 2007 and is the 20th fastest all-time in the world. Nearly beating Kipsiro indicates that Levins belongs on the world stage.
Second-place Bett has proven to be even faster than Kipsiro, having a best of 26:48.99, which is the 33rd fastest all-time, however more impressively yet, he is the 17th quickest athlete at the distance, as many of the results that are above his were achieved by the same athletes repeatedly, for example world record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia has run the 10,000m distance faster than Bett seven times while countryman Haile Gebrselassie has done the deed five times.
Incidentally the world records are (both owned by Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele): 5,000m – 12:37.35 and 10,000m – 26:17.53.
Levins’ bronze in Glasgow is the result that the pundits have been anticipating from him since he joined the NOP nearly 16 months ago. At that time he told Athletics Illustrated, “I knew very quickly that this is a program I wanted to be a part of, and that I could do very well training with such fantastic athletes.”
Before joining NOP he completed the 5,000m – 10,000m double in the 2012 London Olympic Games. He finished 11th in in the 10,000m event in the time of 27:40.68 and 14th in the 5,000m with a finishing time of 13:51.87, all the while feeling under the weather.
He had a similar result during the 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships where he ran the 10,000m event and finished 14th in the time of 27:47.89. He followed that performance up with an 8th place result in the 3,000m distance at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships. He crossed the line in 7:57.37; a personal best.
Levins twice competed in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. In the 2013 Bydgoszcz, Poland edition he finished in 41st position, while in 2011 he was the 56th competitor to cross the line. The 2011 cross country worlds took place in Punta Umbria.
His personal best in the 10,000m event is 27:27.96, which is the second fastest all-time by a Canadian, only bettered by Simon Bairu of Regina, Saskatchewan with his 27:23.63. Both of their times were achieved during the annual Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational meet that takes place in Palo Alto, California at Stanford University. Levins set his during the 2012 event, while Bairu did so two years earlier.
Levins’ 13:15.19 5,000m best is also the second-fastest for that event in Canadian history behind Jeff Scheibler’s 13:13.96 from 1998 in Berlin, Germany. Levins’ 3,000m outdoor best is 8:00.99, while his 1500m best is 3:36.88, both set during the 2013 season. During the 2014 indoor season he set bests in the both the 2,000m and 3,000m distances with his times of 4:55.35 and 7:41.59, respectively. Levins has demonstrated range from 1500m to 10,000m; an outcome that at least two of his teammates at NOP enjoy, Olympic silver medallist Galen Rupp and Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah.
During his highly successful NCAA career, where he competed for the University of Southern Utah, he won two NCAA national championships in both the 5,000m and 10,000m distances; he is the first to do so since 2009. Levins was the 2012 Bowerman Award winner. The Bowerman award is named after the great Oregon coach and co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman. The award is equivalent to winning the Heisman Trophy in Football, as the most outstanding track and field athlete in the NCAA.
Levins won the Canadian Cross Country Championships three times in 2010, 2011 and 2012, as a senior Levins finished fourth at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Levins’ mileage is now probably less than the purported 160 miles per week that he was performing in runs of up to three times per day and up to 30 miles in a single day (50km) during and shortly after his NCAA career. Even Salazar said that he wanted the mileage brought down and more quality to be injected. So it is anyone’s guess as to how much he runs per week now. The important thing to note is that he no longer refers to himself as an also-ran, having to train with athletes who have all earned medals in international competition. He now belongs at Nike Oregon Project as an international competitor and medallist.