Canada's Cam Levins sets North American record at Tokyo Marathon

Canada's Cam Levins raced a North American record time on Sunday in the Tokyo Marathon.  (@JRNHeadlines/Twitter - image credit)
Canada's Cam Levins raced a North American record time on Sunday in the Tokyo Marathon. (@JRNHeadlines/Twitter - image credit)

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 finished 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 finished 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.

DuChene clocks fastest time in 4 years in final marathon in pro field

Fellow Canadian Krista DuChene finished her elite-level marathon career in Tokyo with an impressive showing, running her fastest time in four years to cross the finish line in 2:38:53 seconds.

The 46-year-old from Brantford, Ont., reached the 10-kilometre mark in 37 minutes 15 seconds, keeping pace with the top 30 before finishing in 19th place.

DuChene completed all six major races in the last six years — London (2017), Boston (2018), Berlin (2019), New York (2021) and Chicago (2022).

"It's the last [marathon] I'm going to commit this much time and energy to at this point in my life," DuChene told CBC Sports ahead of the race. "Next year's the last year that all three of my kids are at home because my oldest [son Micah] is in Grade 11."

With her time, DuChene broke Catharine Watkin's Canadian 45+ record of 2:40:11.

Rounding out the Canadian results were Jenny Ann Bulk in 84th, 39 minutes and 32 seconds off the top time, and Nini Wu, who cracked the top 100 in a time of 2:57:41.

Kenya's Rosemary Wanjiru crossed the line 28 seconds ahead of Ethiopia's Tsehay Gemechu for her first major win.

Ashete Bekeri, last year's runners-up finished third, 2:43 behind Wanjiru.

Swiss pair Marcel Hug and Manuela Schar won the wheelchair titles and set new course records.

Defending champion Hug won in 1:20:57, nearly four minutes faster than his time last year.

Schar won the women's race in 1:36:43.