Last Saturday, over 2000 athletes toed the line at the water's edge for the St. George 70.3. One of those athletes was Gary Martinez, from Boise, Idaho. St. George would be Gary's second 70.3, and like most triathletes who pick up triathlon later in life, the swim start would bring forth feelings of excitement and nervousness. Excitement to get started, and nervousness for the unknown that is inherit to endurance racing.
As his coach, I was especially proud of Gary this season. He had made a concerted effort to confront his fears and obstacles head on. Open water swimming made Gary nervous: so he swam in the pond multiple times per week until open water swimming felt second nature. Hills intimidated Gary, so he committed to riding three continuous laps of the infamous "Boise Dump Loop" as a key training ride. What was once intimidating was now just another weekend workout.
Over the two years I worked with Gary, I got to know a complicated man who was always clear on his priorities: family, faith, work, and personal fitness. When we first started working together he recommended we schedule a weekly coaching call- just 15-20min to touch base and review the week. At first, I naively thought I would be the one teaching Gary about training, triathlon, etc. Instead, during those calls Gary taught me how to be a better coach by simply listening. Half the time we talked triathlon training, but the rest of the time we talked about family, faith, or work. When we first started those calls Gary was a client, but soon he became my friend.
We spoke the day before the race about focusing on the elements within his control: his pacing, his nutrition and hydration, his focus. We agreed that his finishing time will simply be a reflection of how well he managed these elements.
Back in his hotel room the night before the race, Gary spoke with his family on FaceTime. They could not make it to the race, but Gary's wife, Jessica, had slipped drawings from their two young children into his travel bag. Gary had embraced triathlon as a way to improve his quality of life and to set a healthy example for his three children. Though in this moment he was away from family, triathlon was a way Gary could extend and improve the quality of time with his family for years to come.
On the morning of May 1st, 2021, Gary Martinez toed the line at the water's edge. He was ready to conquer the St. George 70.3 course.
I was later told approximately half way through the swim course Gary suffered a massive cardiac event. He died soon after being brought onto a race support boat.
Some of you may have know Gary. But for those of you who did not: he was a husband, father of three, business man, friend, and triathlete. His friends have started a GoFundMe for his wife, Jessica, and his three beautiful children, Sam, Elaine, and Angelo. Please consider donating to his family during this time of sudden loss. Gary was self-employed and the primary income earner for the household, and any amount will help build a nest egg to help his family through the future.
If you would like to be informed about funeral services or simply want to share a story about Gary, please respond to this email.
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