Now that the postseason of the Bassmaster Elite Series is behind him, Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., has begun training for the Ragnar Relay Series.
He’s not swapping sports. He's committed to the team running event for the fun of it. Ever-competitive, Martens is intrigued by the challenge.
He figured that the Jan 6-7, 2012, event is far enough away that he’ll be ready.
“I’m in pretty good shape already,” he said. “I don’t think it should take me very long to get conditioned for it.”
Martens said he’s able to do five miles now.
“But that’s five miles at a 10-minute pace, which is slow,” he said. “I could go faster, but I’d be hurting. My wife can run five miles at a seven-minute pace. She’s killing me.”
A Ragnar is an overnight relay that's held on a designated route, with 12 runners to a team. The distance can be up to 200 miles. While one person runs, his or her team members follow in vehicles, resting and hydrating so they will be ready to take up the baton again. A well-trained team can finish in 17 hours, but most teams need 24 to 30 hours to complete the course, according to Ragnar Events LLC, the 2004 founder of the increasingly popular event.
Named after a ninth century Norse king said to be adventuresome, Ragnar events will take place at various times during 2012 in about 16 locations across the United States. Martens and his teammates have decided on the Miami-to-Key West event, a course that traverses cities, swamps, narrow roads and even the Seven Mile Bridge.
Martens is part of a team that’s still being formed but may include other Elite Series pros. The volunteer team organizer and head coach is Eric Lopez, who as director of site operations for B.A.S.S. has a ready source of athlete recruits. The team also will include Lesley Martens. She ran a Ragnar last year while her husband waited for her at the finish line.
“I was the babysitter,” Martens said. “My wife and some other fishermen’s wives heard about Ragnar, how much fun it was. We all had an excellent time, and they said it was one of the most fun things they’ve ever done. I decided it was fun to watch but would be a lot more fun to be in it.”
A good party is very likely to happen in Key West at the end of the course, but Martens is serious about the running. He doesn’t consider himself a runner, although less than 10 years ago, he was a regular jogger. He used to cycle, and he was an avid mountain biker when he lived in California. He got pulled away from the discipline.
“I got too busy with everything, and I lost that time I used to run,” said Martens, who will turn 39 in late August.
Lesley Martens, an experienced runner, will help her husband train, and Martens can tap into Lopez’s extensive running expertise. As a competitive angler at the top level, Martens’ priority is learning how to stretch and run the right way to protect his body. He plans to start out slowly and aim for three-mile runs about four times a week. Every week he’ll increase his distance by 20 percent. One of his first goals is to run a mile and not break a sweat.
“After all that, I should be in great shape for the (Bassmaster) Classic,” Martens pointed out.