(03-Apr) -- Canadian Olympian Cam Levins will join the Nike-sponsored Oregon Distance Project in Portland, Ore., and be coached by three-time ING New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, the athlete said in an interview today.
Levins, 24, will leave his training base in Cedar City, Utah, where he attended Southern Utah University during his NCAA career, and be joined in Portland by his fiancee, Elizabeth Butler, who will be starting a graduate program in pharmacy studies at Pacific University in August. Levins saw this as a perfect opportunity to join Salazar's group and start logging miles with athletes like Mo Farah, Galen Rupp and Dathan Ritzenhein.
"Part of the reason why I was in Utah was because my fiancee was still in school there and I didn't want to leave her," Levins said in a telephone interview with Race Results Weekly. He added: "Alberto's Oregon Project seems like a really good fit. I really liked the guys there, and his long term plan for me is what I want for myself."
Levins said he and Salazar connected quickly in their meeting, and he felt especially comfortable because Salazar also favored a high-mileage approach during his own career. (Last November, Levins put in at least one week of 190 miles). Levins said with Salazar's guidance and the state-of-the-art facilities available at the Nike campus in Beaverton, he could improve his own durability by improving his body strength, something he had not focused on previously.
"Because he himself went through high mileage throughout his career that he sees where I am in my career," Levins explained. "It's obvious that he wants to keep me healthy and sees the longevity of my career years down the road. I think it's kind of obvious how much mileage I can put in and the durability of my body. But there are other aspects that need work and he's going to address that." He added: "He wants to make me faster, he wants to makes sure my body becomes stronger and more resistant to injuries."
Levins had a sensational senior year at Southern Utah in 2012, getting his personal best times down to 13:18.29 for 5000m and 27:27.96 for 10,000m. He won NCAA titles at both distances, and doubled in the London Olympics, finishing 14th in the 5000 and 11th in the 10,000m. He also won the NACAC and Canadian cross country titles. In 2013, he set the Canadian indoor record for two miles at the Millrose Games (8:14.69), but had a disappointing World Cross Country Championships last month where he finished 41st. Levins said he was plagued by a sinus infection which still lingers.
"Like always, I pick up something," he lamented. "I did what I could do on that day. Maybe it wasn't meant to be anyway. I'm still coughing a little bit."
Salazar was quick to embrace Levins who was already a Nike-sponsored athlete.
"The coaches and athletes of the Nike Oregon Project are excited to welcome Cam Levins to our training group," Salazar said in an e-mail message to Race Results Weekly. "He came and met with our runners and all of them voted him onto the team as they felt that he would add to the positive chemistry of our team. We all believe that Cam has the ability to be soon challenging for medals as several Oregon Project runners have accomplished in recent years."
Prior to moving to Portland, Levins said he would join his new training group for a high-altitude camp in Park City in May and begin his preparations for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August.
"I'm planning on going straight into the group then," he said.
PHOTO: Cam Levins (far right) competing in the 2012 London Olympic 10,000m (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)