Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

On the road again


Mountain biker and triathlete Ken Martin. Photo: Jim Provenzano
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Kenneth Martin is a fascinating person to meet, provided you can keep up with him. Whether it's a practice run with San Francisco Track and Field, a jog with FrontRunners, or even a few laps with Tsunami swimmers, – oh, and an occasional swim in San Francisco's Aquatic Park – Martin keeps his training diverse and busy.

The 47-year-old Berkeley native has never competed in a gay sports event before. Yet new challenges come easily to him, and his next ones include mountain biking at both Chicago's Gay Games and Montreal's Outgames, and hopefully a few other events.

"I didn't even know about the Games until recently," said Martin, an architect who designs and renovates residential homes. "I like old houses a lot, so I love doing it."

In between this summer's two LGBT sporting events, Martin will ride his bike from Chicago to Minneapolis. He's calling his 400-mile trip "the credit card tour. Carry nothing, literally; except a change of clothes, undies, shirt, and stay in a hotel – that's it."

So, being a multipurpose athlete, the topic of multipurpose clothes for such various sporting activities came up. "I'm not a good clothes collector guy," said Martin. "I want to carry as little as possible."

One recommendation he did make was Keen shoes, his preferred "sandal-y multipurpose athletic wear," which, in black or dark gray, also works well for eveningwear.

"I've always been a little too energetic, so this past year I started doing all these sports," said Martin. "I like to run a lot, walk my dogs a lot. But most things I like to do are essentially solitary activities. It hadn't occurred to me to do it with groups of other people."

Recently, Martin realized the variety of local LGBT sports groups, and decided to check them out. "I would show up, thinking I might hate it. But they were so nice," he said. "I've found that across the board. It does create community, and," he smiled, "it gets you dates."

Martin also appreciates the drive to work harder that comes from training with other athletes. "You're in a lane and push harder not to get lapped. It makes you go a little faster."

Track drills like high knee kicks aided his running technique. In just one workout with Tsunami, he was able to get over a breathing pattern problem with his swimming.

But Martin's competition is not with others. When we talked, he didn't know the course length for his cycling competitions, and isn't concerned.

In Montreal, Martin will compete as a member of the newly formed Team Mexico, after friends of his in Mexico City, who were supported with scholarships and other funding from Outgames, invited him to join. Martin said his Mexican friends are very happy to get such an opportunity, since the expense of traveling would have prevented them from attending.

Martin isn't sure which events he'll end up competing in at Outgames; mountain biking, triathlon, and/or road bike racing. "Because of the schedule in Montreal," he said, "I can't do [all three], so I have to choose two."

Perhaps due to his ability to be almost several places at once, Martin may just show up at some other event to do it for fun, and excel in whatever he chooses. And he'll test them out at the Gay Games. "Yeah, it'll be a good warm up."

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