In his first-ever marathon, Cam Levins broke the Canadian record for the 42.2-kilometre distance.
The Black Creek runner did so in cold, blustery conditions Oct. 21 at the Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, covering the course in two hours, nine minutes and 25 seconds.
He shaved 44 seconds off Jerome Drayton’s record of 2:10:09, set in 1975 in Fukuoka, Japan.
“It was definitely a bit cold out there; it actually snowed on us at one point,” said Levins, 29, who finished fourth overall. “I knew it would be an experience I’d always remember no matter the result, and I’m excited to do more (marathons).”
His wife Elizabeth, and parents Gus and Barb watched him cross the finish line.
“We were happy with the fact that he ran a real good race,” said Gus, noting his son required a few years to fully recover from a foot/ankle injury. “Not downplaying the record, but even if he missed it by a second, we’d still have been happy.”
Levins’ older brother Jordan also competed in Toronto. By breaking three hours, Jordan qualified for the Boston Marathon.
“Cam trained him,” Gus said.
Levins won $6,000 for being the top Canadian finisher, and received a $43,000 bonus ($1,000 per year) for breaking Drayton’s 43-year-old record.
Drayton placed sixth in the marathon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, and won Boston the following year. Though he’s never met him in person, Levins chatted with Drayton by phone on the weekend of the race.
“I was honoured he gave me a call, along with some good training advice as well.”
At the 2012 London Olympics, Levins placed 11th in the 10,000 metres and 14th in the 5,000m. In 2014, he won a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but the injury kept him out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
An alumnus of Southern Utah University who now lives in Portland, Ore., Levins is able to train full-time thanks to a sponsorship by the Hoka One One shoe company. Barring injury, it’s a safe bet he will again represent Canada at the next summer Olympiad, which is just two years away in Tokyo, Japan.
“I think it’s reasonable to believe I can improve upon my debut marathon, but I need to be careful and stay healthy to expect anything,” Levins said. “Hoping to make the 2020 Olympics in whatever event I can. I spent a bit of time in Japan during 2015 and loved it. I’m certain they will be a great host country.”