Canada’s Cam Levins was ready for Tokyo.
After refining his running style following a disappointing Tokyo 2020 Olympic marathon, Levins set a personal best in the 2023 Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, finishing fifth while setting a North American record.
The 33-year-old posted a time of two hours, five minutes 36 seconds, lowering his previous Canadian record of 2:07:09.
While he concluded 33 seconds off the podium, his time hit the automatic qualifying standard of 2:08:10 for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Ethiopia swept the podium in Tokyo, with Deso Gelmisa winning the race in a time of 2:05:22, while Mohamed Esa and Tsegaye Getachew finished second and third, respectively.
Levins started off strong with the lead pack, with the top men reaching the four-kilometre mark in 11:55, with the Black Creek, B.C. native in the middle of them all before he hit the five-kilometre mark in 14:49.
Skipping several hydration stations along the way, Levins ran composed and conservative through the opening 10k, keeping himself within race contention before reaching the halfway point in 1:02:11.
While the Canadian faded down the stretch at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, he attacked through the final stages on Sunday, taking over the lead position at kilometre 39 before Getachew and Gelmisa made their moves down the last 500 metres.
In the Olympic race, where he concluded 71st, Levins struggled to accelerate through the hydration stations, and it seemed all was lost for him by the midway mark. But his adjustments were evident in Sunday’s record-setting performance.
Levins now holds four of the six fastest Canadian marathon times in history.