Q&A with Mike Schwarz, Touchpoint Controller and Serial Marathoner

By Jake Weyer

08/29/18

When it comes to crunching numbers and managing money, Mike Schwarz is the man at Touchpoint Media. With more than three decades of financial management experience to lean on, nobody can touch Mike’s spreadsheet skills, but that’s far from the limit of his talent.

Outside Touchpoint, Mike has another specialty—marathon running. He’s completed 149 marathons to date and and is four states shy of joining the prestigious 50 States Marathon Club. Here’s a little insight into Mike’s work here and his goal of running a marathon in every state in the U.S. before he turns 60 next July.

What do you do in your role at Touchpoint?
I’m the controller, which simply put means I keep track of all financial aspects of the company. That includes paying the bills, sending out invoices, treasury, generating financial statements on a monthly basis and any kind of spreadsheets and analysis around that.

And your 50-state marathon goal started when you began working here?
Yes, I’ve been at Touchpoint about four-and-a-half years and just after starting here I started running marathons in different nearby states. I had already done 20 different states up to that point but it wasn’t yet a goal to run throughout the U.S. To me, it’s been a testament to how great it is to work here that I’ve been able to knock off 26 states in four years.

You’ve run a lot of other marathons beyond that. When did you start?
My first was Grandma’s Marathon in 1990, but I’ve always been running. My first recollection of running was in second grade when a friend and I decided we were the fastest guys in the class. We started at the edge of the playground and ran to a chain link fence and back and whoever finished first was declared the fastest.

I ran track throughout high school and in my first year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. There was almost a 10-year gap from when I graduated from college and when I ran my first marathon, but the first one was such a great experience and I was hooked.

What are some of your most memorable marathon experiences?
My first Boston Marathon stands out because there aren’t a lot of people who are fast enough to qualify without a lot of hard work and training.

As you get older, your qualifying times get slower and starting in a couple of weeks, my qualifying time will be 15 minutes slower. But I will still need to run a 3 hours and 55 minutes qualifying time and my averages recently have been more in the neighborhood of 4 hours and 45 minutes or even slower. My best times, from the late 1990s, were around 3 hours and 18 minutes. I once hopped through the Boston Marathon after injuring my achilles—the only time I’ve been hurt until a recent knee injury that has slowed me a bit.

I’ve also had memorable runs outside the U.S.—in Rome, Switzerland, Berlin and elsewhere. And I’ve run in a variety of conditions, like high heat and wind in Hawaii and Las Vegas, freezing temperatures in North Carolina and constant rain during a run through the redwoods in California.

What’s your motivation to run in every state?
I like to travel and I’ve been blessed with strong enough legs to run. In general it’s just to embrace that and make use of the ability to get out each day and let my body work. Even when the states are done, I hope to continue running marathons for as long as I have my health.