© Copyright – 2012 – Athletics Illustrated
Cameron Levins of Black Creek, British Columbia (on Vancouver Island) is one of the classiest athletes in the NCAA. He also became the first student to win a national championship for his school, Southern Utah University. Levins trains at what is currently considered an unusually high volume of mileage. It works. His lower mileage competitors trailed him – all of them. “To win at any level in any field and then be consistently humble about the successes and victories is what true humility and sportsmanship is about. This is what makes a great athlete’s legacy endure throughout time”, says his Coach Eric Houle.
Houle gave Cameron Levins a look out of high school when few other schools showed any interest. For that Levins was proud to honour Coach Houle and the school with the championship. It was his gift to them for giving him the opportunity to compete at the highest possible level, when nearly no one else would. “It is my gift to the school for giving me the opportunity to compete,” said Levins.
Levins trained like few others or perhaps no others. When he was 19-years of age, at a post-road race interview, I asked him about his upcoming training plans for the summer, with measured confidence he said , “I am going to run at home all summer and get my mileage up to 100 miles per week.” He did. Although he was dealt several minor injuries throughout his collegiate career, he never let them control the situation, probably because he progressed his volume of training logically and incrementally each year that he went to school.
Houle let Levins red shirt, to give the rising runner an extra year to train without having to deal with the stresses of racing that can lead to burn out or leave athletes fighting injuries for long periods of time, often curtailing them from reaching their true potential. They did this to save him for when he would be physically more mature and able to race at his best, while giving him a chance to build a solid aerobic foundation. This paid major dividends. He ran as much as 150-miles-per-week. This worked so well that Levins ran the second fastest 10,000m time in Canadian history at the 2012 Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University. He ran to the time of 27 minutes and 27.96 seconds. His finishing kick devastated the field.
Nine days before the 10,000m win at Payton Jordan, Levins ran a 13:18.47, 5000m, crushing Kenyan, Lawli Lalang, who owns a personal best time of 13:08.28. Again, Levins’ 5000m time was one of the best in Canadian history. Lalang runs for Arizona State University under the tutelage of Coach James Li, who professes to be a low-mileage advocate of the Arthur Lydiard method of training. Looks like the real volume advocacy of the Lydiard method carried out by Coach Houle won that race.
More recently, it was the NCAA Div 1 Track and Field Championship that grabbed everyone’s attention on Wednesday night, June 6th. Levins defeated the best NCAA Division 1 runner to never win a championship, during his post-race video interview with Flotrack’s Ryan Fenton – in his usually classy manner – Levins told Fenton, “I would like to apologize for taking that moment away from Chris (Derrick), he is the very best NCAA Div 1 runner to never win a championship.”
About the race, Houle said, “He followed the plan, we really didn’t know if it was going to go out fast in the beginning or the end, the pace picked up in the end which was good for us because he has to run the 5K on Friday. But he was out to win the race no matter how fast the pace ended up. The time ended up fast but he didn’t have to match his PR and him being able to back out by 40 seconds should really help in the next race. It went just like we hoped it would.”
Levins, in that race, held off Arizona’s Stephen Sambu by two seconds, winning in 28 minutes, 7.14 seconds, Sambu also runs under the low-mileage advocacy of James Li. Not only is Levins a classy guy, he is also a great athlete and ambassador for the sport.