By the numbers: 7 days, 7 marathons, 310 total kilometers run in a week, 73 pairs of shoes distributed to 73 happy boys and girls, 2 homes visited, and over $5,000 raised for YouMeWe.
What an experience! And it’s not too late to donate!
Day by day
Day 1: 55 Kilometers from Tokyo to Kawagoe, running with Knights In White Lycra Go-Go Run. Our journey ended at Saitama Ikujin and had a delightful time with the children there and their laser crafted “thank you” notes. Roger Berman did a fantastic job on the organization!
Day 2: 37 Kilometers. A solo run from Kawagoe to Kurihashi in Saitama. What sights through a traditional Edo village and rice fields with Mt. Fuji looming over my shoulder!
Day 3: 47 Kilometers from Kurihashi to Utsunomiya with Simon Jelfs the local expert of the area who was able to guide my course. Started cold with drizzle. My knee ached. I was getting a bit loopy (I’m deleting the videos). Then, meeting up with Simon, the bright blue sky, and feeling great on a long run that ended in famous Utsunomiya gyoza. My road crew, my wife Tomoko, joined me as “the support team”…taking my stinky gear ahead to the next stop. A huge shout-out and love to her!
Day 4: 42.2 Kilometers from Utsunomiya to Nishinasu. Back as a solo runner. The mountains started to show themselves under the open sky. My knee felt better. Unknown to me, Tomoko had visited a shrine where the local god specializes in healthy legs and feet. Just what I needed! She did a helpful prayer. I was actually surprised my knee had stopped hurting? A prayer answered???
Day 5: 34 Kilometers from Nishinasu to Shirakawa. Entered Fukushima and the weather started to feel like late autumn. The yellow, orange, and reds were gorgeous. I had planned for more hills with lighter mileage, but the hills didn’t materialize…..that lurked ahead for on Days 6 and 7.
Day 6: 42.2 Kilometers from Shirakawa to Koriyama. This was a day of rainbows! Tomoko had sent me a picture of a rainbow over the mountains from the train platform. Then about midday, another rainbow formed over the sky and became a full rainbow that remained there as my companion for over an hour. The clouds, sky, mountains, leaves were all my companions during the week and I realized it’s the little things that can bring such joy. Look for them.
Day 7: 45 kilometers from Koriyama to Fukushima City. Today had hills, both up and down. Also, some of the most beautiful pastoral scenery Japan has to offer. Google Maps was kind enough to take me to some back roads where I felt I had slipped into the Edo era. It was also emotional for me to finish at Fukushima station. So much so, I went into Lotteria and had a magnificent coffee smoothie despite the cooling northern temperature.
Day 8: 8 kilometers from Fukushima station to Fukushima Aiikuen to meet the kids. I was greeted with a Goal Line banner, rousing applause, hugs, music, and smiles of children from age 3 to 18. It was a delight to watch the kids open up their boxes of shoes and see their faces light up, trying on the shoes, running, and jumping. This was certainly an exceptional end to my venture.
During the prep and run itself, I got a lot of questions. Here are some of the answers!
What do you listen to?
On this run, as I was near traffic in unknown places, I didn’t listen to anything. Though I often listen to books and podcasts, these 7 days were filled quiet time out in nature. It was very cleansing.
Did you do this with other people?
Only on Days 1 and 3. The rest of the time I was running by myself.
Did your feet or legs hurt?
I consciously took Day 1 slow as it was a long 55K run and I knew that my legs would tire over the week. As mentioned above, my knees hurt for a couple of days, and then the pain disappeared. On day 2 I had my only blister. On day 7, I found my big toenail turning blue. I’ve not had black toe before, so this was new, but not painful. Incredibly, my legs felt good all the way until the last day.
What did you eat?
On the run, I didn’t eat much. Because of the schedule, I basically had a late breakfast, no lunch, and then would eat a sandwich at 3 or 4 and then an early dinner. If I did snack, Daifuku were go to. And on the Go Go Run, the salmon onigiri were awesome.
How did you move your stuff?
Tomoko, my wife, helped! She’s awesome and I couldn’t have done it without her help.
What was the best/worst parts of the run?
Best: Seeing the kids at Fukushima Aiikuen! Their smiles were gorgeous and big.
Worst: traffic lights!
What were you fund raising for?
The charity, YouMeWe (www.youmewenpo.org) helps educate orphans in Japan. This is done through a variety of programs, such as computer literacy, financial understanding, and English. Check it out. They are doing outstanding work.
Who were your sponsors?
Skechers and Oakley. They were super! Also, Knights in White Lycra and YouMeWe supported me every step of the way.
What was your ultimate takeaway after running that much?
Life is filled with joy and beauty in little things, if we take a moment to notice them. No matter what’s happening in life, we can create that moment of joy.
Last words: If you can, please donate to support YouMeWe.
These kids have such interesting stories and such potential to grow into well-adjusted, contributing adults. To help them, we can start supporting their education, teaching them how to build computers, how to work personal finance, and learn English. All these things create global citizens. The term, “Throw away kids” is sometimes used, but these children are anything but that! They have dreams, ambitions, and like any kid, challenges. Let’s help them as they grow into citizens in the world.
Thank you for all the support. People have been so kind, helpful, and generous. Thanks for making this such a fantastic experience for a great cause!