Legendary Parksville Qualicum Beach athletics coaches Randy and Kim Longmuir have decided to hang their whistles and clipboards for good.
The couple, who founded the Mid Island Distance Running Club, have been instrumental in helping many athletes in PQB and in other communities on Vancouver Island develop their athletic potential. And they’ve done it primarily on a volunteer basis.
Kim indicated it was extremely hard to give up something they’ve been so deeply passionate about. They have been coaching for more than 40 years.
“It certainly been an honour for Kim and I to have been able to touch some lives through the time we’ve been coaching,” Randy said. “It’s wonderful when we keep in touch with people who we coached years ago and realized they’re doing well and that we played a small part in their life history. Certainly it has enriched us tremendously by having contacts with all the wonderful kids and athletes that we’ve coached over the years, and the parents and support that we’ve received.”
The couple, both in their late 60s, specialized in middle and long-distance running. They were involved with Oceanside Track and Field Club and on several occasions were selected to the coaching staff of Team BC at a number of competitions nationally. They were active with the Vancouver Island Athletics Association and were also recognized for their years of dedicated service in the sport when they received the Excellence Coaching honour at the BC Athletics annual awards in 2011.
Among the many athletes the Longmuirs have guided and honed from a young age, is Alycia Butterworth, who recently competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 3,000-metre steeplechase.
Butterworth credits the Longmuirs for helping her develop her running abilities and for directing her to an athletic discipline that has become her expertise, the steeplechase. She was only in Grade 8 went she first tried it out.
“I wanted to compete in the BC Summer Games and the Islands was the hardest zone to make it from,” Butterworth recalled. “I wasn’t good enough of a flat runner to make it so they said, ‘let’s try you in the steeplechase. We’ll see if we can get you in the Summer Games that way.’ That was great because I ended up loving it. It became my favourite race to do and what I overly excelled at. So yeah, they were the ones who suggested it to me as a little 13-year-old.”
Butterworth, right after graduating from Ballenas Secondary, went on to earn an athletic scholarship at the University of Idaho in steeplechase and went on to earn a degree in marketing and human resources. She made great strides in 2021 as she made the Canadian team that competed at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Butterworth also considers the Longmuirs as a second family and close friends. She remembers how the Longmuirs treated the many athletes who were under their mentorship and guidance.
“I feel that they just adopt every one of their athletes and treat them like family and always have,” said Butterworth. “They helped kids especially during their turbulent time, their teenage years when they’re trying to figure things out. They’re always so supportive and willing to work with different personality types. They’ll treat them with respect and help athletes in their development because of their love for the sport.”
Another athlete who benefited from the Longmuirs’ guidance is Juliette Desvaux, who after graduating from Ballenas Secondary was recruited by the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds track and field team. She said they will be difficult to replace.
“They’ve had an incredible impact on my life,” said Desvaux. “They have coached me for quite a few years and they’ve really changed my track career. They’re more than just coaches to me. They feel like family as well. And they do that. They just come into your life and transform it. They’ve had a big impact in my life. We share a friendship now. They’re not only good coaches but also such incredible people.”
The Longmuirs have been strong proponents to get the Ballenas Secondary track upgraded to an all-season surface. The recent strong drive by the community to get this project achieved has re-energized the Longmuirs, who continue to be involved in the process.
“I hope to see a new track built and running in our lifetime,” said Kim. “That would be a dream come true.”