It took Cam Levins 27 minutes and 7.51 seconds to make Canadian history – and only slightly longer to start looking ahead to the future.
Competing at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. on Friday, May 29, Levins smashed the Canadian 10,000m record with a time of 27:07.51, eclipsing the previous mark of 27:23.63 (set by Simon Bairu in 2010) by 16 seconds and beating his own personal best by 20 seconds.
“I’m trying to focus on the next thing, but I’m still excited about it when I think about it,” he said from his home in Oregon. “I’m looking forward to continue a good start to the (outdoor) season.”
Levins said he had his sights set on a sub-27 minute time, but added he was really pleased with his time and huge PB. “Any time that you start getting close to breaking into a new set of digits it’s kind of exciting. Anybody would try to make a push for that,” he said.
Levins’ fourth-place finish in a quick field (27 started, 20 finished) was remarkable in itself. Great Britain’s double Olympic champion Mo Farah, a teammate of Levins at the Nike Oregon Project, won the race in 26:50.97, the fastest 10K time in the world this year. Kenyans Paul Tanui (26:51.86) and Geoffrey Kamworor (26:52.65) finished second and third, respectively.
Levins said the race went according to the plan he and coach Alberto Salazar had drawn up. After pacing himself behind a rabbit for the first half of the race he was well back of the field, but a big push in the final kilometre vaulted him up to fourth place.
Having a vocal cheering section – including his parents – provided plenty of encouragement.
“It felt like by the end of the race, I had a bigger cheering section than the actual leaders of the race. They were excited watching me go up through the field. It was a fantastic atmosphere. I wasn’t gonna let them down, for sure. They definitely kept me going. I could hear (my parents) every time I came around on each lap. It was really great.”
As an astute Record reader noted online, Levins now holds the world’s third fastest 10K time by a non-African, a fact the 2012 Olympian and 2014 Commonwealth Games 10K bronze medallist was well aware of going into the May 29 race.
“I definitely had that thought on my mind. The fastest is my (Nike Oregon Project) training partner Galen Rupp (26:44.36) and second is another guy who trained in Oregon as well, Chris Solinsky (26:59.60). I was aware of their times, both under 27 minutes. Just breaking 27 was a big goal of mine. Had I done that it would have been icing on the cake…moving up the all-time list (where Rupp is 24th, Solinsky 95th and Levins 151st).
Next up for Levins is the Portland Track Festival on June 14, where he’ll be running the 5,000m and “at the very least” be looking to get a world championship standard.
“I may be looking to go after the Canadian record in 5K as well. It’s 13:13 and I have to run 13:23 to qualify for the world championships. The times aren’t really too far away from each other. That’s something that’s on my mind after setting the last record, try to achieve another one.” Levins holds the Canadian indoor 5K record of 13:19 and his best outdoor time is 13:15.
The worlds are in Beijing in August, and before that there’s the Pan-American Games in Toronto in July. “I’m planning on just doing the 5K at the Pan-Am Games. I think the world championships are up in the air. I’ll at least do the 10K. I think I’ll definitely be signed up for the 5K, just because it’s after the 10K. The 10K is sort of my big focus for the season.”
Levins is looking forward to the Pan-Ams. “Having them in Toronto, in Canada, with the home crowd. Even if it is out east, it’s still really cool to be able to compete in Canada in a major event.”
Feeling fit and healthy, Levins is looking forward to many more years of long distance running, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
FINISH LINES In 2012, the Southern Utah University grad became the first Canadian winner of the Bowerman Award, the NCAA’s award to the most outstanding collegiate athlete in athletics … at the 2012 London Olympics Levins finished 11th in the 10K and 14th in the 5K … he was 14th in the 10K at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow .. Levins holds the Canadian two-mile record and is a three-time Canadian cross-country champion …