This is a guest post from Aaron Landis, a marketing consultant at Verizon who works primarily on My Verizon Mobile. He works in Overland Park, KS and lives nearby. Every year since 1956, a foot racing event dubbed “America’s Ultimate Challenge” is held in Manitou Springs, CO.
The Pike's Peak Ascent and Marathon is a racing event that begins at the base of Pike’s Peak and climbs over 7,815 feet to the top of the 14,115 foot peak. The Ascent takes place on a Saturday (slightly longer than a half-marathon, at 13.3 miles), with the round-trip marathon on a Sunday. The running trail consists of dirt/rocky trails with rock and other natural obstacles at an ever increasing altitude.
The race is much more difficult than a standard 26.2 mile marathon. The weather and trail conditions vary. Some races have been associated with hot, dry conditions, and others have been associated with snow and cold at the top of the peak. I’ve completed several half and full marathons in years past, but I have never attempted a race like this. As a self-proclaimed technophile and #Proud2bVZW Verizon employee, I thought there was a unique opportunity to test Verizon services and accessories in these extreme conditions.
For this event, I took a Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone for Facebook posts on the mountains and a GoPro Hero 4 HD video camera to document the race. Day 1 (1 day before the actual race): To limber up, my racing team decided to take on a popular local hiking trail called the Manitou Incline. The length of the incline is only a mile, but gains over 2,000 feet of elevation with that distance. As we traveled up, I took many pictures with my S6 and posted them all to Facebook on the way. After doing a little informal survey of my fellow climbers, it seemed that the only service provider that had service at that altitude was Verizon.
On the way down, I even handled an emergency phone call from a contractor working on a building project at my home. He did not have any power from my house, so I called my electric provider, submitted a trouble ticket and had the issue resolved before I reached the bottom of the mountain. Day2 (race day): It was 5 a.m. I was nervous, but ready to go. Around 7 a.m., I charged up the GoPro, attached it to my GoPro chesty harness and headed to the start line, which was just outside my motel.
Once the gun was fired, with a simple flip of the switch, I was running and filming the experience. The GoPro with the chesty harness was surprisingly comfortable while running. No one even noticed it until I pointed out that they were being filmed. The chesty allowed me to adjust the angle of the camera on the fly due to the changes of the incline. For flatter ground, I could adjust it to film straight ahead or angle it up for more extreme climbs.
The rugged construction of the GoPro allowed me to not worry if I were to hit it with a big boulder or tree limb, and the display was always visible to check on battery and microSDHC card capacity status. In the video taken on the mountain, we are approximately 10,000 feet up on the mountain, and you can catch a glimpse of the narrow rocky path we had to traverse and the long line of determined runners.
The battery on the GoPro did not last as long as I did, so thankfully I hd brought a couple extra and changed it out mid-trail. The microSDHC capacity gave great video, so I could record much of my run. To capture the full five hour race in HD, you may want to invest in extra memory. Finally, I made it to the top well within my goal time. I am already making plans to enter next year, and I’m planning to take additional microSDHC cards to capture the entire experience