It’s a good bet Japanese running fans will see a different Cam Levins in three weeks.
The Canadian marathon record-holder earned the First Half men’s half marathon title in Vancouver on Sunday, breaking the 61-minute barrier in a men’s national mark of 1:00:18, less than three months after Ben Flanagan set the record by edging Levins at the finish line in Spain.
With a light rain falling Sunday, Levins ran much of the 21.1-kilometre route on his own and succeeded by four minutes over Lee Wesselius, Thomas Broatch and 2022 Canadian marathon champion Trevor Hofbauer.
“Main objective was to get in a good effort, and one that can hopefully give [coach Jim Finlayson and I] a solid idea of what pace I can aim for in [the March 5 Tokyo Marathon],” Levins stated. “I’ve been running really great workouts, but sometimes it’s a little difficult to know exactly where it puts me in a race.
“It feels as though I’ve been constantly training in these sort of [rainy and cool] conditions for the past few months, so I had lots of practice for race day.”
“This is a seriously LEGIT record on a course that features hills, open spots to the ocean, and no rabbits [pacesetter] … WOW,” Trent Stellingwerff, who coaches Canadian runners Natasha Wodak and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, posted to his Twitter account after Sunday’s competition.
On Aug. 8, 2021, the 33-year-old Levins was one of the last finishers in the Olympic marathon in Sapporo, Japan, placing 71st in two hours 28 minutes 43 seconds after hitting the 2:11:30 automatic qualifying standard with a week to spare.
He later told The Canadian Press not eating enough leading up to races was a big part of the problem in not reaching the Olympic standard earlier.
“I really just took a lot away from the last Olympics and realized I need to be better in every way,” Levins told reporters last July 17 in Eugene, Ore., where he shattered his own marathon record with a 2:07:09 fourth-place performance at the World Athletics Championships.
“I hope I have a long career still ahead of me, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.”