Photo screen grab from YouTube Richard Whiting memorial Slideshow.
The track and field community is mourning the loss of one of its pillars with the recent passing of Rick Whiting.
The popular Richmond athlete died June 17 from leukemia. He was just months shy of his 80th birthday.
Throughout his athletic career, which spanned more than 40 years, Whiting ran 120,000 kilometres—the equivalent of three times around the world. He also won numerous races and received many accolades, routinely setting both personal bests and age-group records that would often defy his age. Even after the age of 55 he still held three world records.
Whiting’s fastest time in the marathon was two hours and 17 minutes, a notable feat given the world record is just over two hours and two minutes. He also once completed the half marathon in a mere one hour and 14 minutes.
Rick Whiting loved to share his passion for running as much as he enjoyed participating himself. Photo screen grab from YouTube Richard Whiting memorial Slideshow.
Whiting loved running, but equally he loved to share his passion for it. He offered to coach whenever and wherever he could, including with the Richmond Kajaks Track and Field Club of which he was a long-standing and much-valued member.
“He was always present—at a race around the track or (training) with the masters, and he was always extremely pleasant,” said Sam Collier, a longtime manager at BC Athletics.
But, in particular, Collier recalls Whiting as being “absorbed in whatever he was doing at that moment.”
“I remember thinking, ‘I hope a lot of the other people who got involved at a young age are still taking part the way he was at his age.’ He was super positive and supportive and genuinely enjoyed what he was doing. And he was always there for the athletes and to see that the sport take place.”
Whiting was equally dedicated to his long career as an elementary school teacher in Richmond, during which he also coached multiple sports including volleyball and basketball.
One of his favourite songs was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. The lyrics include “…the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.” Whiting was a testament to that.
His service’s recession said it all. “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Whiting is survived by his wife of 56 years Friedel, son Gordon, daughter Astrid, and a sister Lois.