INDEPENDENCE — Ramon Martinez loves running in Independence and surrounding area, but he has his sights set on tackling Switzerland next fall at the ITU Long-Distance Duathlon World Championship.
The qualifying race was a duathalon in Florida in November.
It started with a 10-kilometer run, a 56-mile bike ride and finished with a half marathon run.
“In Florida at about 85 degrees,” Martinez pointed out. “I was able to get in the top 20. I’ve done other running events that were challenging because of the terrain. I love it because running and biking are a big part of my life.”
But that wasn’t always the case.
Martinez said he didn’t even know what a marathon was before he went to college in Sacramento, Calif. at age 18.
Martinez grew up in a small town in Central California called Firebough.
“I was never a runner or biker growing up,” he said. “I was a wrestler and baseball player.”
Moving to Sacramento was a game-changer, Martinez said. That’s when running and biking caught on.
“I was able to find it and just came in with some really great people who welcomed me with very positive attitudes and really just helped me explore a little more of the multi-sport world,” Martinez said. “It helped me to be exposed to the possibilities of running and where it can take you. I’m really grateful for the (opportunity to represent) the country at the ITU World Championships. I will represent Independence the best I can in Switzerland. It’s the least I could do for a community that has given me such a warm welcome.”
Martinez said he initially started running to get in shape for wrestling.
At the same time, his dad was facing health issues.
“My dad had a heart attack when I was a senior in high school, and he wasn’t able to go to my high school graduation,” Martinez said. “I saw running as a way to help me get on a path for a healthier lifestyle.”
Martinez did cross-country during his senior year of high school, but admits he wasn’t the most competitive person on the team.
“When I ended up going to school in Sacramento, I took a kinesiology jogging class,” he said. “It helped me learn the mechanics of proper running, and I was able to get taught by someone who is a very renowned runner in the Northern California area. Her name is Dr. (Sally) Monical. She just helped me see running a little differently.”
Monical, an instructor at California State University, Sacramento, taught him that running is an art, he said.
“She helped me make a connection with running,” Martinez said. “How running technique is just as important as technique is with swimming and golf. So she helped me see running as, it’s not just putting on a pair of comfy shoes and going forward. She really helped me be mindful of running with good form, good technique.”
Martinez and Monical have kept in touch, and he told her about his recent accomplishment.
“It’s hard to come up with the words to describe the feelings when a student leaves the university and soars into life like an eagle,” Monical said. “Pride is there, and I know that my mission is to plant the hearty seed of lifelong health, and for this seed to grow into a leader that serves and prospers with the communities they hold dear, but Ramon is the seed that glowed with the qualities of an outstanding citizen of epic proportions. I have watched how Ramon’s joy and love of life have uplifted individuals and whole communities like a wonderful contagion.”
Martinez said he is grateful for all that he has been given and wants to share his knowledge and love of running through his new business, Vámonos Coaching.
The business will help him earn the almost $4,000 needed for his trip to Switzerland next fall.
And though Vámonos is a for-profit business, Martinez wants to start a fund to provide running shoes for local youth.
“I want it to have meaning,” he said. “I want this to be something that’s going to be able to have an impact on the next wave of runners, because running has made a big impact on my life, and I want to do what I can to help provide those opportunities. One of the first ways to start running is to have a pair of running shoes. Hopefully we can do some good work there. I’m excited about it.”
Monical said some of her initial lessons were to behave in a way to build a healthy body. A healthy mind and spirit will follow, she said.
“Ramon is the perfect example of how this lesson was supposed to work,” Monical said. “This is a young man beyond my sense of pride in my work. He is a young man for all of our U.S. and global citizens to be proud of, and to model themselves after.”
For more information about Vámonos Coaching, email firstname.lastname@example.org.