Canadian Cross Country Championships, 2012. Lead Pack: Mo Ahmed, Cameron Levins, Kelly Wiebe. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2017 – Athletics Illustrated

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Cameron Levins, Canada’s fastest all-time 10,000-metre runner, is back training well and returning to fitness, post-surgery.

Asked about his current fitness he told Athletics Illustrated, “I’m training really well now actually. However, not back to where I was before getting injured. I’m consistently improving though, and I think it’s just a matter of time until it begins to show in races.”

The 28-year-old Vancouver Island native has had various highs countered with low points since joining the Nike Oregon Project, after graduating from Southern Utah University. The good times include gaining the national record of 27:07.51 in the 10,000m event, set in Eugene in May of 2015, as well as earning a Glasgow Commonwealth Games bronze medal. He missed making the Rio Olympic team and will not be attending the 2017 London IAAF World Track and Field Championships next month either.

He is also back training with Coach Eric Houle once again, the man who helped Levins through most of his early successes. Houle is the head coach at SUU and is seen as instrumental in Levins’ development as a two-time NCAA champion, Bowerman Award winner and Canadian national champion.

“I left the Oregon Project and am training under Coach Houle again; I feel excited about the future.”

Although it was not discussed, Levins may be tackling the marathon, as reported by the CBC in May of 2017. He could as early as the fall of 2017 according to their article. Levins is aware of the old and relatively slow – by today’s standards – national marathon record as held by Jerome Drayton from over 42 years ago at 2:10:09.

He told the CBC, “It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. It’s a race I can do very well at. It makes sense that it’s something to try this year.”

Levins’ 10,000m time suggests that if he can run at that standard in a marathon, he could put the record away by a few minutes, just how much will depend on several factors.

Various marathon projection formulas suggest that he could run anywhere from 2:06:30 to 2:08:00. The IAAF calculator points to a 2:07:04. The ankle, of course, will need to hold up and his strength in distance must work well for the marathon – only training for and trying the event will indicate whether he can.

Not all 10,000m and half-marathon champions can move up to the marathon with success. For example, Regina’s Simon Bairu, the previous national 10,000m record holder before Levins, tried a few marathons before giving up on the distance, not finding that success translated to the gruelling event. Bairu had run as fast as 27:23.63 and owns a 62:08 half-marathon best, but the marathon eluded him as it did Vancouver’s Jeff Schiebler.

Schiebler continues to hold the national record for the half-marathon at 61:28 that he set in 1999; however, the best marathon that he could run is 2:14:13 from the New York City Marathon in 2002.

Greater success came to Guelph’s Reid Coolsaet, Vancouver Dylan Wykes, and Antigonish’s Eric Gillis, neither of which have yet to eclipse the record, but they have come close. Coolsaet has been probably the most consistent Canadian in history, running several 2:10s, with a best of 2:10:28. Wykes has the second-fastest time at 2:10:47, while Gillis has been a very close and consistent third and has run as fast as 2:11:21.

Levins, however, may be more suited to the marathon than any, as he has withstood and benefited from an unusually high volume of steady training of up to 160 miles (260K) per week. Only time will tell.

“My ankle isn’t completely pain-free all the time, but it’s functional. I have some really good days and others that are less so, and the pain is slowly fading.”

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