Cameron Levins working with Victoria coach Jim Finlayson

It's early days for Jim Finlayson and Cameron Levins, but the relationship makes sense. Levins is from Black Creek, British Columbia, which is located near Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Finlayson grew up in Ontario and has lived in Victoria for 20-plus years and currently is having success coaching Emily Setlack, one of Canada's top marathon runners. Finlayson was coached by Ron Warhurst at the University of Michigan, Brent Fougner from the University of Victoria, three-time Olympian Jon Brown as well as Canada's top physiologist in Trent Stellingwerff.

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© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated

Cameron Levins, who left the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) more than two years ago, has been quietly working with Victoria’s Jim Finlayson.

The fallout from coach Alberto Salazar’s ban and the subsequent closure of the NOP has left several high-profile athletes scrambling to find new coaches. Meanwhile, others who had left during the previous two years have settled into new situations.

Jordan Hasay is now being advised by former marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, while she is apparently on a self-guided program. Galen Rupp has recently chosen to work with Mike Smith of Northern Arizona University and Mary Cain is with New Zealand’s John Henwood.

“Jordan has recovered nicely from her injury that made her drop out of Chicago last year,” said Radcliffe.

Several others were left without a coach on short notice as the ban was announced during the 2019 World Athletics Championships that took place in Doha, Qatar.

World record holder Sifan Hassan apparently has not formally hired a replacement, however, she continues to be represented by agent Jos Hermens.

Mo Farah left prior to the United States Track and Field (USATF) investigation took place, but only after a Panorama documentary implicated the coach in questionable doping practices.

Levins, who attended Southern Utah University (SUU), prior to joining the NOP went back to his SUU coach Eric Houle but the relationship the second time around was arms-length. Levins was looking for more.

“Eric Houle was more in a consultant position for me the last couple years, and I was just looking for something a bit more full-time and closer to where I live,” said Levins. “He’s always been a great coach and friend to me over the years, and that doesn’t ever really change.”

Levins grew up on Vancouver Island and then moved to Portland, OR when he joined the NOP, after Utah. He continues to live with his wife in Portland while working with Finlayson.

Levins, a 2012 London Olympian and former national 10,000-metre record holder (27:07.51), suffered from a string of injuries that kept him either out of global competitions or from performing at his best. After leaving the NOP, he pursued the marathon distance and proceeded to break the 43-year-old national marathon record in Toronto in 2018. The previous record was held by Jerome Drayton at 2:10:09, Levins finished in the time of 2:09:25.

It’s early days for the two, however, the transition seems to be a smooth one. Levins’ next race is the 2020 Houston Half Marathon that is taking place Sunday, January 19. His personal best at the distance is 62:15, which he set in Valencia in 2018.

It is unclear at this time which late-winter or spring marathon he may run to try to achieve the 2020 Tokyo Olympic standard of 2:11:30. There is speculation that he could run Rotterdam, London or Ottawa. When asked, Levins was mum on the announcement.

Levins is the first Canadian to run under the 2:10 benchmark and he did it without using the controversial Nike Vaporfly shoes.

“We started in November, but there isn’t much to report yet,” said Finlayson. ” He’s pretty easy to work with, very respectful and thoughtful.”

“We are looking at a spring marathon,” he added.

Finlayson competed in the NCAA for the University of Michigan under the legendary coach Ron Warhurst. He went on to compete for Canada at the World Cross Country Championships. Along the way, he won two national marathon championships and eventually become known as a legend in a quirky event called the Kingston Beer Mile and beer two-mile races, setting several world records.