“Since I’ve come over here, I’ve noticed that results have gone well, and race performances have gone well, especially when I go back home to Ireland“Says Eoin Flynn, Professional Mountain Runner
The Canary Islands has become well-known within the global fitness community as a training and competing destination for elite sportsmen and women. The archipelago’s low number of Covid cases, great weather and diverse landscape make for perfect conditions for top-level training and preparation for athletes from all specialties.
Eoin Flynn, a professional mountain runner from Ireland, has lived on the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands for the past 10 years. Eoin trains year-round in Gran Canaria and competes in both the Canary Islands and in Ireland. He believes his fitness and mountain running has hugely benefitted by his move to the Canaries, extending his competitive running career.
Eoin, who moved to Gran Canaria in 2011, said “Since I’ve come over here, I’ve noticed that results have gone well, and race performances have gone well, especially when I go back home to Ireland because I’m training in the heat all year long and at altitude. If you’re training in the heat for 12 months a year, when you go home to Ireland and take part in cross country, the Dublin Marathon or road races, the body can just perform a lot easier”.
Research has shown athletes training at higher altitudes with lower atmospheric pressure promotes an increase in red blood cells in athletes to compensate for the lack of oxygen, leading to improved sport performance long term. The Canary Islands is renowned for its varied landscape which allows athletes to easily move from sea level to altitudes of more than 1800 metres. Given the archipelago’s volcanic origin, the islands are full of steep valleys and soaring peaks, including Mount Teide in Tenerife.
Eoin explains that one of the main reasons he enjoys training in Gran Canaria is due to the varied landscapes of the islands, “You’ve got a lovely mixture for training here. For example, if you’re down in the South of the Island around Playa de Ingles, Maspalomas, you’ve got flat roads. So, if you’re preparing for road races you can go there and you can go pretty much all year round. If you’re looking to prepare a trail race you can go up to the high mountains which are as high as 2000 metres high. You’ve got a great mixture of technical tracks. You’ve got easy trails as well, landscapes that range from Mars-like lunar landscapes to beautiful pine forest”.
The year-round good weather is also a great benefit for athletes coming to the Canaries for training. Athletes of all disciplines travel to the Canary Islands, especially during the winter months, to escape the cold Irish weather and continue their training.
Flynn finds Gran Canaria’s climate of huge advantage to his training “We’re very lucky in Gran Canaria that we have an average temperature over the course of the year of 25°C, in the wintertime maybe 21 or 22°C, which is fantastic for winter training. Then in the summertime it’s a little bit hotter, 27 or 28°C, but never too hot that it’s impossible to train. In wintertime, it’s ideal. You can go up into the mountains like I was this morning, nearly 2,000 metres high, and you’ve got a great selection of trails there”.
It’s not only competitive runners that choose to train in the Canary Islands, but athletes of all disciplines. Eoin explains “There’s a great combination of athletes here. You’ll often see professional cyclists all around the island, not just in Gran Canaria, in Tenerife, of course, as well, that has the Teide Mountain, which is well over 3,000 metres high. You’ve got Spanish Olympic athletes, local athletes, and all the professional athletes that come over, people who come over and combine their training with a holiday”.
There are routes and trails across the Canary Islands to suit athletes of all levels. According to Flynn, “For beginners, here in Gran Canaria we’ve got some of the roads beside Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas, where you have the beach and sea just beside you and the road infrastructure just around that, which is nice and flat, very safe. That’s ideal for people that are coming to just get some miles in. Then 45 minutes up the road, up the mountains, you’ve got different trails that range from tough, technical trails to very easy and very runnable trails, set in beautiful mountainside villages that go from the villages themselves up high into the mountains.”
The Canary Islands are not just enjoyed by sportspersons in training, but also for competing. Every year the islands host a range of events for both elite sportsmen and women. Some of the most famous competitions include, the Ironman Lanzarote, the Gran Canaria Marathon and the Transvulcania Ultramarathon in La Palma.
The Transgrancanaria is a 128km annual race which takes place in February in Gran Canaria with nearly 4,000 international athletes taking part every year. Eoin Flynn explains, “It’s a very professional and well-run race. There are different distances, from the start up promo distance of about 16km, right up to the full length of the island which is 128km. It starts in the north on the city beach of Las Canteras and it goes right up to the centre of the island”. The Transgrancanaria race covers some incredible landscapes, including Roque Nublo, one of Gran Canaria’s most iconic natural features.
If you’re interested in a real challenge, take part in the Gran Canaria 360. According to Flynn, “This a full lap of Gran Canaria which is well over 200km. It’s a spectacular event”.
For athletes interested in travelling to the Canary Islands for training, Eoin advises “To get the benefit of warm-weather training or altitude training, from a scientific point-of-view, you should stay for two to three weeks. Now combine that with the fact that you’re going to be eating well, enjoying the beach, enjoying the sea, why would you not stay for less than 10 days to two weeks”.
Eoin also highlights the benefits of the small size of Gran Canaria and the Canaries for athletes in training, “You’ve got a fantastic hotel structure, as well, close to the mountains. The mountains are never more than an hour away and then of course, you’re very close to the beach, as well. It’s ideal.”
With its year-round warm weather, low cost of living and small number of Covid cases, the Canary Islands is also increasing in popularity as a destination for remote workers. Eoin Flynn has seen this increase in digital nomads in Gran Canaria and understands why people are choosing the Canaries to live and work remotely, “Apartments are a lot lower than back home to rent. You can buy a house a little bit cheaper as well, and restaurant food is maybe 20% cheaper too. If you can combine your international salary with living here, you’re onto a winner really.”
The Canary Islands offer a great quality of life for those living there and are bursting with culture waiting to be explored, Eoin explains, “I love some of the mountain villages like Teror, Tejeda, away from the more traditional holiday spots like Maspalomas, Playa del Ingles. To see the local Canarian lifestyle, local Canarian cuisine in those towns, it’s really special. They’re normally based in there in the centre of the mountains as well. So, you can go for a lovely day trip in the car have a nice bit of lunch, bring the whole family and experience real Canarian life as well”.
For more information on the Canary Islands please visit www.hellocanaryislands.com
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