Race Report: Mesquite Canyon 50K

Last year, I attempted running the Mesquite Canyon 50K as my first ultra-marathon. It uh… It didn’t go quite the way I hoped it would. I linked up with some runners to listen in on some interesting conversations, but we all ended up taking a wrong turn that would cost us the race.

I was confident that would not be a problem this year, and I could focus on battling the trail itself. The race started off rather quickly, as they tend to. I told myself I would just run at whatever pace felt comfortable, and so the first third of the race was faster than I expected it to be. That would back to bite me in the ass.

The descent to Goat Camp is a rather steep one, but I managed well enough. The sun was out and it started to heat up quite a bit though, and I’d guess it was nearly 100 degrees by the time I got to that aid station. I loaded up my bandana with ice and turned around to head back up from Goat Camp. That climb was BRUTAL.

By the time the trail started to flatten out, I was toast. It was the hottest weekend of the year, and it sort of came out of nowhere. There wasn’t an opportunity to do any heat training, and for someone like me – that can be particularly detrimental. My pace slowed down, but I knew I had PLENTY of time to finish the race, though maybe not as fast as I had hoped I would.

It felt like I was wandering through the desert mountains for quite some time by the point where I got to the wash and then the white tanks. Man was that ever a nice change of pace, though! The sand made for not so great running conditions, but it kept me engaged. Then the rocks and the water were just something really neat to see. I scrambled past a troop of boy scouts as well as a few other day hikers and was soon on my way to finishing this race.

By the time I got to the end, the heat was really getting to me. Thankfully, I had some friends at the end who made me sit down and rehydrate / get some ice on me to bring my body temperature down and keep from overheating.

I was happy to get my revenge on this course, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be back for another dose!

Feature Photo Credit ūüď∑: SweetM Images

Pace Report: Black Canyon 100K

Pacing somebody during a race is a heck of a thing to experience.

At the time of this race, I had only actually completed a single ultra-marathon – the inaugural Whiskey Basin 57K. I had planned to run a couple of other ones, but life / illness / injuries would get in the way. When I saw a friend of mine post on Facebook that he was looking for a pacer at Black Canyon, it looked like a great opportunity for me to not only get in some extended mileage but also be a part of something bigger.

Having read multiple articles and listened to many podcasts about races and pacers, I knew it was something I wanted to do at some point. When Chris publicly declared he was looking for someone to help him get his Western States lottery entry, I decided to hit him up!

The day started for me at the Bumble Bee aid station, where I would work all morning with a crew of great volunteers, providing support for runners passing through. It was a different day for this race, as recent rains caused the race director to change the course from a point-to-point to an out and back. Conditions looked to be rough, as we saw many runners come through our tent soaking wet and covered in mud from that day’s rain. As runners kept coming through, I wondered how Chris was doing.

He looked pretty strong, both coming through the first time, and going past us on the way back. I started to get excited to run with him, and I packed my stuff up to meet him at the next aid station down the road.

Cold. So cold.

Once I got into my running gear and had nothing left to do but wait, I realized how cold it was going to be. Just standing around, I started to shiver – and I could imagine how he was feeling at that point, over 40 miles into his race. I’d be joining him with a fresh set of legs, looking to warm up as we moved.

He impressed me in the first few miles – I think there’s something motivating when you realize you’re not out there by yourself anymore. The pace was pretty solid as we trudged through the hills, and things felt great for a while.

The place looked like an infirmary

Then it started raining heavier. And we started getting into rougher territory. By the time we reached the final aid station before the finish (a little over 7 miles out), the place looked like an infirmary. Runners huddled around a single heater at the back of the tent. People (myself included) had our hands in our mouths to breathe life back into numb fingers. Everyone was shivering and considering their options. But we had to push through.

The rest of that race with Chris was something I would never have imagined. It was something I’d rather not experience ever again. But having done it makes me believe I could manage it if I had to. We ran through probably 5 miles of THICK mud. When we weren’t struggling to keep from slipping, we were exerting our legs to pull them out of pools of water and muck. This wasn’t any ordinary trail run – it was a power hike through crummy conditions. Would we even be able to make the midnight cutoff? “Hell, let’s just get through this,” I thought. We’ll sort that out later.

After what seemed like forever, we finally made it back to “nice” dirt roads and ultimately pavement en route to the finish. I glanced at my watch and realized that we could definitely still get Chris his lottery entry, but we couldn’t be lazy about it. I had way too much energy at this point and was ready to push it hard to get there. Chris? Not so much. Can’t say I blame him, though. It was a hell of a long day for him, but I knew he could do it.

Victory!!!

It turned into bursts of running and walking – whatever he could muster. We came in with just a few minutes left, and I have to say – it was amazingly satisfying to see him do it.

…and that feeling after one of the craziest courses I could imagine. #bct100k

A post shared by Joshua Schlag (@schlizzag) on

After the finish, we spent a couple of hours inside the high school gym, making our best efforts to right off hypothermia and return some sense of normal feeling to our bodies. We saw people seeking care from the medic team (those guys are AMAZING, by the way, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the crew Aravaipa gets to come out to their races). After some pizza, hot ramen, and coffee, we finally were able to get our butts up and moving. But not until quite a few war stories, Instagram photos, and hugs from other racers and volunteers.

If I push myself to the point of wanting to run a 100K – this may be a great option for me one day. I can only pray that the course won’t have the look and feel that it did that fateful weekend in February 2017, though.

Feature Photo Credit ūüď∑: SweetM Images

Gotta Catch ’em All: Pok√©mon GO for Marketers

What’s the (Electa)buzz?

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the buzz about the latest trend in mobile gaming. Kids of all ages are suddenly out and about at all hours of the day, phone in hand, as they try to find rare Pokemon and battle for supremacy at Pok√©mon Gyms.

But what can this mean for your business? If you have a brick and mortar location, and you’re lucky enough to have a Pok√©Stop nearby, it can mean increased foot traffic, and yes – sales! Apps like Foursquare and Swarm have tried to drive foot traffic for years. It took a cute little yellow creature named Pikachu to finally get the job done.

To really benefit from the foot traffic, though, you have to actively participate. Just having a Pok√©Stop isn’t enough to get players to look up from their phones, as many have attested:

While thousands of gamers are hitting the malls and small business districts, most are not buying or even browsing, according to several news reports. Instead, gamers are seeking out Pokémon Gyms and PokéStops for training Pokemon and getting free game items.

Retail Customer Experience

Arbok, I choose you!

What do you do, then? Lure Modules to the rescue! These are in-game items that you can add to any PokéStop to attract Pokémon for 30 minutes at a time. And you can buy Lure Modules through in app purchases. So for less than $2 per hour, you can tell customers that your store / restaurant / bar / library is the place to be while out and about hunting Pokémon!

Pokémon GO marketing done right.
Pokémon GO marketing done right.

Cobra Arcade Bar in downtown Phoenix is taking advantage of the craze on all fronts. For under $20 a night in Lure Module purchases, they’re attracting more and more patrons on a nightly basis. In addition, they’re giving away game tokens for those who show that they’re actively participating in the game – thus justifying the purchase of Lures. Special cocktails tailored towards players encourage more purchases.

Pokemon GO at the Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo is another example of Pokemon GO marketing done right. Not only are they dropping lures throughout the zoo, but they are also opening their gates early to let Pokemon hunters do their thing before the rest of the crowds come out! They are catering to a potentially new set of visitors while also keeping them from becoming a nuisance to the regular visitors. That’s a win in my book.

Pokemon GO Marketing with McDonalds in Japan

This is only the beginning, though. There are rumors that sponsored Pok√©Stops are coming, with McDonald’s on board as the first major partner. Undoubtedly, you’ll be able to make your location a Pok√©Stop if it isn’t already one through your digital ad spend budget. (Source: Android Headlines)

Pokemon GO marketing: Just a fad?

Beyond that, the game keeps adding new features. Much like Snapchat, they’re finding ways to keep the game fresh over time, and not become a relic of 2016 tech. They don’t want to become the next Candy Crush once the novelty of augmented reality wears off! In due time, there are likely to be NFC (near field communications, the same technology that lets you pay wirelessly using your phone or Apple Watch at Starbucks) interactions between players to facilitate trades and battles. This could even extend to retailers interacting through that same NFC technology or even QR codes to give special offers to players through a kiosk. (Source: Yahoo! Tech)

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for an account, purchase some lures and go Catch Em All! Customers, that is.