The Muscat Marathon of 2020 is coming, and one person you cannot miss is the race announcer, the tall, lean bearded Eoin Flynn, the man with the golden voice, whose impeccable Irish lilt is just made for the microphone. What you couldn’t know about Flynn is that he is a genuine ‘feel-good’ story in himself.
With phrases like “Allez Les Bleus,” and “Viva España,” rolling off the tongue as he engages with the crowd, Flynn demonstrates his linguistic skills as well as having an impeccable knowledge of the elite competitors. You may have a mental picture of an announcer poring over race and athletics records, and countless hours in front of a computer, to get up-to-speed with current performances. However, most of the time Flynn does it the hard way. He actually competes against many of those taking part, as one of the not so big pool of international level runners in middle, long, and ultradistance running.
Flynn is convinced that the Omani athletes have ‘what it takes’ to achieve success on the international stage, and lauded their efforts in the 50 km race saying, “It’s not a question of if, but when we have an Omani champion of the Oman by UTMB race, for example, in the not so distant future. The Omani athletes were a real eye-opener this year, particularly in the 50, and with Hamdan al Khatri’s bold run for second behind Eion Keith, the sky’s the limit really. And I think in the marathon, and even middle distance events, the Omani culture, heritage and physical attributes all seem to lend themselves to success on the roads and tracks.”
Flynn will arrive in Muscat as a proven distance runner having competed across a diverse range of events for over a decade, representing Ireland on 10 occasions, and winning in excess of 80 events. He’s no slouch on the track either, with a 3:53:95 1500 m time, an 8:30:29 3000 m, and also a 2:25:01 Marathon which was good enough for a bronze medal in the Irish National Championships. He still has ambitions to win Irish National and World Championship titles in the Irish green singlet, and sees the Masters (over 40’s) events which he becomes eligible for next year, as the perfect opportunity to do so. “I think I can still get faster over these longer distances, so that’s my aim.”
He came by race announcing quite by accident, as a last minute option, but has gained prominence quickly and the initial Muscat Marathon appointment last year was a coup for the organisers. Returning this year, it’s clear that Flynn is so comfortable with the athletes and officials at the ‘top table,’ so to speak, having very much ‘walked in their shoes, and his comments and interviews all work to bring the events closer to the spectators, while the athletes respect his insightful questions, “and my brevity”, smiled Flynn.
Today, the Gran Canaria domiciled Irishman divides his time between competing, teaching, race announcing, selling fudge at a local market, and being a doting Dad to his two children. And what’s the secret to race announcing? “First, you have to enjoy it, and enjoy being out in front of people. You have to know how the runners are feeling as they are adjusting mentally for what’s ahead.” He offered as an example his own thoughts just before the start of a race, that he “Prepares his body for the pain, while trying to enjoy the moment! I like to take the event to the crowd, to get them involved, and to get them excited,” he said at last year’s Muscat Marathon, “If I can help them know the runners, the race, and feel the competitor’s excitement and pain, their elation, then I feel I must be doing my job okay.”
Flynn’s modesty probably prevents him from acknowledging that for many spectators, he himself embodies the passion, enthusiasm and excitement of the events. Flynn’s knowledge of the competitors, his engaging manner, his Irish charm, and his incredible work ethic, are all part of a genuinely enthusiastic and passionate package. “You never know what life will throw at you,” he said recently, “but you have to stay positive. Maybe I wasn’t good enough to get to the Olympics, which is every athlete’s dream, but who knows, maybe I’ll get there as an announcer?”