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Cameron Levins of Black Creek, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. Wins 2018 Toronto Marathon in 2:09:25 – a new national record. Photo courtesy of Canadian Run Series/Twitter.

Cam Levins broke the 43-year-old Canadian Marathon record on Sunday in Toronto at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon finishing in the time of two hours nine minutes and 25 seconds. It was his debut at the distance. He is also now the 2018 Canadian Marathon Champion.

The previous record was set in 1975 by Jerome Drayton in the time of 2:10:09. The 29-year-old finished fourth behind Kenyan Benson Kiptruto (2:07:24), Augustino Sulle (2:07:46) of Tanzania, and Kenyan Felix Kandie (2:08:30).

New Zealand’s Jake Robertson finished fifth overall in 2:09:52. Robertson is known for moving with his twin brother Zane as 17-year-old teens from their family home to Kenya, to begin the high-elevation training that the Kenyans are known for – Jake was a pre-race favourite for the win having a best of 2:08:46.

Reid Coolsaet of Guelph, ON finished 10th in the time of 2:17:37, until Sunday, he was the closest to breaking the record having run as fast as 2:10:28 during the 2015 edition of the Berlin Marathon. He had run several 2:10s over his career including a 2:10:55 in 2011 at Toronto. Five years later he ran that exact time again at the Fukuoka Open Marathon Championships where Drayton had set the national record.

Levins started the race conservatively clocking a 30:45 first 10K, 44 seconds behind the lead pack, which included Robertson. He continued to hold patient through half-way, with a 64:34 clocking. He was nearly one-minute behind Robertson with 2K remaining in the race, but overtook him as the Kiwi faded over the final kilometre.

It was a smartly run marathon, especially considering it was Levins’ debut.

Levins ran the final 7K faster than any other runner, slowing down the least at approximately 2:10:30 pace..

The top women were Mimi Belete of Bahrain who finished in the time of 2:22:28. Ethiopian Marta Megra finished in second place in the time of 2:22:34, while Kenyan Ruth Chebitok crossed the line in 2:23:28.

The top Canadian was Kinsey Middleton who was crowned 2018 Canadian Marathon Champion. She crossed the line in the time of 2:32:09. London, ON’s Leslie Sexton was second in 2:36:02, while Krista DuChene of Brantford was third and first master (40-plus) recording a 2:36:46.

For Middleton (née Gomez), who lives in Boise, Idaho, it was her marathon debut, which is one of the fastest Canadian marathon debuts to date. Rachel Cliff of Vancouver owns that honour with her near national record of 2:28:53 from Berlin in September. Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak paced Middleton to the half-way mark at 1:15:48.

For Levins, the performance was a breakthrough. He had run fast enough in the shorter distances that indicated he should be capable of running faster than the national record, however, suffered a foot injury that required surgery. It was a long road back for the two-time NCAA champion and former national record holder with his 10,000-metre best of 27:07:51 from 2015. He competed in the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, but just could not come around to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

He attended Southern Utah University and proceeded to train up to 160 miles or 259 kilometres per week. Post-graduation, he signed on with Nike and the Nike Oregon Project under the direction of famed marathon runner Alberto Salazar.

Levins left Nike and signed on with Hoka and when he left Nike, he returned to his coach from SUU Eric Houle.