In remembrance of James Robert Flynn

28 April 1934 – 11 December 2020

Our mate, Jim Flynn the Runner

from a fellow Leith Harrier & Athletic Club runner

I remember Jim from the mid 1990s when I joined Leith Harrier & Athletic Club. We enjoyed many club runs from Chingford Park with Jim. Jim was a former President of the club and an accomplished runner who had risen to world class level in the United States of America in cross-country and middle distance running, particularly the 1500m, before heading to New Zealand to make it his home.

Many will remember Jim as the world renowned academic Professor Jim Flynn but for most at the club we will remember him as our mate, Jim Flynn the Runner. Jim loved his running even when numbers at the Saturday afternoon club runs began to dwindle as the 21st Century unfolded, Jim was sure to be there at Chingford Park on Saturdays during the winter harrier season to partake in group runs, either up to Bethune’s Gully or down North Road to the Dunedin Botanical Gardens, Woodhaugh Gardens and Ross Creek. Even when the weather was at its worst, Jim would be there. Conversations with Jim in the club rooms afterwards were legendary particularly with regards to the exact times runners had done.  Here we have a picture of Jim running a leg of the National Road Relay Club Championships held on the Takahe to Akaroa Relay Course in Christchurch in 2009.  At the bottom we have a photo of Jim with his team mates and further down more tributes from fellow Leith athletes.

Jim was very studious when it came to predicting the running times of our athletes, including of course his own. This resulted in him being a very capable race handicapper for our various handicap races – the Hughes Memorial and the Joe Cowie Memorial. When he could no longer run the gruelling Edmond Cup Steeplechase event out at Wingatui Race Course, he would be there with pen and paper in the often bitterly cold stands meticulously timing each and every one of our runners’ lap times. This was very much appreciated by all as it gave us a good idea of how we had fared during the race with a view to making improvements the next year.

Jim also loved going on the annual bus trips to compete in events such as the Clyde-Alexandra Road Race or the National Road Relay Championships either as a runner or to give support. He loved being in the company of fellow runners, and conversing about a subject he was so passionate about. He was also a constant presence at the Caledonian Ground mostly as a very keen track and field spectator supporting his club. Watching all his much younger fellow Leith athletes competing compelled him to try his hand at breaking some masters records. This he proceeded to do.

He still holds the 75-79 age grade Otago Masters record in the 10,000m of 59 minutes 35.43 seconds set on 7 November 2009 at a Caledonian Track and Field Meeting. In 2020 he was still competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m sprint events being unable to do the middle and longer distance races due to failing health. This did not deter him though as he loved being at the Caledonian Ground and among fellow athletes.

Yes, we who knew Jim from running with him for so long, will miss him, but when we go out for our runs we will think often of Jim and others who have left us and remember fondly the banter, laughter, tales of running and other adventures and know that we will one day follow them along the same unknown and glorious path. All we can do in this life is to offer our condolences, comfort and love to his wife Emily and family. Farewell Jim, a life well lived.

Jim with his team mates – Takahe to Akaroa Relay 2009


A Tribute to Jim, by Wayne Parsons

Jim along with the late Ralph Hughes who began the club’s Hughes Road Race were my first running associates when I first came along to the club as a very unfit 20 something. I had always found a natural interest in running and had been a high school cross-country rep. But in those days there was not the mentoring you have these days so without encouragement to continue I went through what you would call a misspent youth and a path in to rugby (which in those days came with little preparation, ending with a series of broken bones). But as my running ability picked up Jim was one who was always on the sideline offering plenty of encouragement. Even getting me out to do his infamous 400m reps at Logan Park. It’s not the gold cups or medals of success but running is something that is a sport that success comes in all forms on the personal front and Jim measured his and that of others in this way in his words of encouragement and as such was always one show a genuine interest in personal goals and achievements.

God Bless you and keep you safe Jim.

May the road rise up to meet you. The wind be always at you back and the sun shine gently upon your progress.

Andrew Lonie’s Tribute to Jim

I’m going to miss Jim, who to me was the quintessential club member – always at events and club runs, and always with encouraging words and information for other runners – the latter showing just how observant he was: I remember one year running the Edmond Cup Senior Men’s race, and afterwards, Jim came over to me and showed me a piece of paper full of figures. He explained that he had recorded the lap times for me and other Leith runners in the race, with interesting detail on how each of our performances had ebbed and flowed during the race – valuable information for us all, that we wouldn’t have otherwise been aware of. On another occasion, I was about to compete in the Lovelock Relays, and he came over to me and asked me with an interested look in those blue eyes: “How do you think you’ll go today?”. I replied that I was unsure as I was still recovering from the Three Peaks Race six days earlier. He then further replied with: “Well I’m recovering from being 74, but I’m going to go out there and give it a crack anyway!”.