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KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run

by YouMeWe NPO
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KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
KIWL 2019 Go-Go Run
Jan 8, 2020

YouMeWe NPO Update from KIWL 2019 GO GO Run

On Saturday 9th November 2019, 30 runners - the largest number ever - and volunteers
got together for the 3rd Annual Knights In White Lycra Charity Go-Go Run to support KIWL’s 2019 charity-of-choice, NPO

Knights In White Lycra raises funds and awareness for community
projects in Japan through various sports activities. Through its credo of Get Fit & Give
Back, KIWL has raised over ¥66.3 million since its founding in 2013.

YouMeWe’s mission is to help children growing up in institutionalized homes obtain
essential independent life skills for when they eventually need to leave as young adults.
For the 2019 running event, 7 runners ran the 55km course, 16 the 22km and 7 the 10km.

Altogether the 30 runners clocked up a cumulative 807km! Their entry fees, along with
corporate sponsorships generated funds of US$6,589.16 - about ¥720,000. The funds
were used to give four Macbooks to Saitama Ikujiin, the facility for
kids-in-care where the run always officially finishes.

KIWL is hugely grateful to its 2019 running vest sponsors. Intralink as
our main sponsor, Eco Marathon, FocusCore Group and ZenWorks In-kind sponsor, Strava
Japan was generous in supplying quality running and cycling merchandise as giveaway prizes for the pre-run orientation held at the FooTNIK Ebisu pub a few days earlier.

In the three years KIWL have put on the Go-Go Run, we have raised a grand total of about

Some History
The “Go-Go” - as I like to call it - was first conceived in early 2017 since I was always
frustrated at being unable to join the KIWL annual bike ride due to business trip conflicts.
As a runner, I thought it would be great to Get Fit & Give Back with a running event, a
sport not yet covered by KIWL. So, I contacted co-founder, Rob Williams to suggest a run
in the hope that he or someone else would organize it. But in a Starbucks in Shimbashi,
Rob soon told me “your idea, your baby!”.

With the inability to organize even a party, I first thought about putting
together a self-supported run going up to a kids’ care home in Tohoku. It would be a long-
distance ekiden relay, covering 30km to 40km sections daily, following the route of KIWL
premier charity event, its 500km/4 day ride

However, that idea soon got overtaken by a more feasible suggestion. In 2017, KIWL was
supporting NPO Mirai-no-Mori, a charity that runs outdoor and
back-to-nature programs for kids in care. They worked with Saitama Ikujiin, a kids’ care
home in Kawagoe, Saitama. After brainstorming with a group of others, we thought it
would be awesome for the home to be the official finish, have the kids there greet the
runners and then do a post-run fun event together.

This interaction of meeting the kids we support has become a prime motivation for the
KIWL Go-Go Run. Also working with same home every year has helped us develop a
continuing bond with the kids - the run is something they can look forward to every year.

Since the home was near the Iruma River in Saitama, we planned out a 55km route that
began on the Arakawa River in Tokyo. Also, since the home was near an onsen spa
facility, we thought a post-run dip there would be a great end to the day. Thus, the run
template was born.

A 55km distance was chosen for a rather selfish reason. Having turned 55 that year, I
thought it would be great way to celebrate that by completing my first ever 55km ultra-
distance run (anything over a 42km full marathon distance is called an ultra). (Admittedly
non-runners might scratch their heads why anyone would celebrate with a run of that
distance!). Also 55 can be pronounced “go go” in Japanese and the term worked well as a
marketing slogan “Let’s go with the go-go”.
2017 and 2018 KIWL Go-Go Runs

The first Go-Go was held on Saturday 9 December 2017. It was a typical chilly winter day
but we had blue sunny skies. To attract more runners, we offered a 21km half-marathon
distance option in addition to the 55km. 14 runners ran the 55km and 11 the half; all the 25
runners along with our sponsors raised approximately ¥820,000.

We were thankful for the help from Manfred Froebe and the International Volunteer Group
(IVG), who organize the annual Yamathon, in providing the essential volunteer support. Our running vest main sponsor was executive recruitment firm, Pathways with additional sponsors, Four Fox Sake and Sunshine Juice In-kind sponsorship was provided by Keen

Shoes Japan and Hobgoblin Pubs Japan

The second Go-Go, held on Saturday 10 November, had a smaller turnout of 15 runners
with 7 running the 55km and 8 the half, raising a total of ¥610,000. NPO Mirai-no-Mori was
our charity once again that year with Manfred coordinating a volunteer group from Mirai-
no-Mori and teaching staff and students from the Tokyo International University (TIU) It was great and a stroke-of-luck that TIU’s campus was
literally walking distance to the kids’ home. Our running bandanna sponsors were RGF

Professional Recruitment, music band, 1Eyed Man, and brand licensing consultancy, ZenWorks Hobgoblin Pubs Japan once again provided
in-kind donations for hydration (of the non-alcoholic kind!).

KIWL Go-Go 2019
With two years experience already under our belts, for this year’s run on we added a new
10km distance option to attract even more runners. A further exciting development was
teaming up with Dr. David Sweet’s 7 Days 7 Marathons
initiative whose fundraising also supported YouMeWe. We were proud to have David do
Day 1 of his run with us.

Manfred and I did some course reconnaissance in late summer and with the recent
typhoon, I did a further recon a week before the run to check the state of things on the
Arakawa River. A few weeks had passed since the typhoon and while many of the sporting
facilities on the rivers were still a mess, luckily the main paths were runnable.

We had a strong volunteer setup this year coordinated by Manfred. It was made up of a
large team of students from TIU, ably led by Kelly Nelson and Laura Dzieciolowski, as well
as helpers from YouMeWe and KIWL. We also welcomed the expertise of Juergen
Wittstock, the organizer of Eco Marathon, who turned up on the day with his minivan full of
race venue stuff such as podiums and a computerized timing system. Looking at all of
Juergen’s equipment, I knew the Go-Go had gone “pro”! We also had mobile support from
three cyclists - Hide Yatabe of YouMeWe (who acted as de-facto photographer) and Jos
Paques and Francesco Frova, both representing KIWL.

So Saturday 9 November came around and the forecast was looking like perfect running
weather. We’ve always been lucky weather-wise though do remain cognizant that the
Arakawa River can be unpleasant with wind and rain as it is unsheltered. We continue to
respect nature!

The Go-Go course itself is simple, Starting on the Arakawa River on Tokyo’s northern
outskirts, it heads upriver and merges onto the Iruma River where it reaches the interim
finish area at Aina Water Park in Kawagoe, Saitama. On a clear day it is possible to see
Mt. Fuji from the upper banks of the Arakawa. With the exception of a switch of riverbanks
for the last 5km of the course, runners shouldn’t get lost if they remember the ditty, “River
on your right and you’ll be alright”.

The 55km runners started at Kanegufuchi Station on the Tobu Skytree Line at around 7
a.m., hitting the river soon after. Volunteer shortages meant we were unable to provide a
send-off to these brave souls but in retrospect, not having anyone there meant flexible
starting times for the runners. Our only request was that these hardened ultra runners
arrive at the interim finish area between 2 to 3 p.m.

We gave the 22km runners an organized send off with a not-too-early 11 a.m. start from
Minami Furuya Station on the JR Kawagoe Line. The enthusiastic volunteers from TIU
staffed the registration desk, took the runners bags (for delivery at the interim finish) and
guided runners to the river 3km away where checkpoint 1 was located.

The 10km runners had a 5km out-and-back course from the interim finish at Aina Water
Park. With a leisurely 12 noon start, this was the most relaxed of the three routes. With
checkpoint 2 managed by Manfred and a friend, being 5km out from the finish, it served as
the U-turn for these runners and as the marker for the 55km and 22km runners to indicate
that they were now on the home stretch.

Other than a couple of hiccups (including conducting a search-and-rescue for one lost
runner - that’s another story!), all 30 runners arrived at the interim finish well before 3 p.m.
Everyone was tired but in good shape. Volunteers from TIU provided enthusiastic
welcomes, hot soups, rice balls and snacks. While the Go-Go is not a race of any sort, a
nice touch was the podium ceremony put on for the first-to-finish runners by Juergen.

As for me, I ran the 22km coming in last but being back-of-the-pack has its merits,
including getting the most cheers!!

Welcome By The Kids

The coolest thing was the welcome from the kids from Saitama Ikujiin who came to the
interim finish with bundles of energy to recharge the batteries of the runners and
volunteers. The kids were so excited to re-connect with runners and volunteers from
previous years who they recognized, and to make new friends with first-time Go-Go

The kids, their carers and everyone walked back to the home together, to be greeting by
an official finish line tape and an enormous beautifully handmade banner with personal
messages from the kids written on it. At the home, runners were presented with
personalized cards by the kids and Finisher Certificates by Michael Perry Clemons, the
founder of YouMeWe. Very heart-warming were the speeches by the kids including one in

The day finished off with a shuttle bus trip to Kachofugetsu Onsen Spa for a rejuvenating bath and a celebratory dinner
party. Free transport to JR Kawagoe station was laid on afterwards and everyone was
back in Tokyo by 10 p.m.

KIWL Go-Go 2020
If you’ve read this far, thank you!
The good news is that the Go-Go will be on again in 2020. We’ve got a great set up now,
having built expertise and improved the event over the past three years. Our organizational and volunteer teams are in place, as is the route and the relationship with

Saitama Ikujiin.

The run is gaining awareness amongst the Tokyo running community. While the
November or December date - not yet set - always conflicts with at least one major
marathon, it still appeals. The 55km run is good for a strong runner who has multiple full
marathon experience and now wants to step up a notch. The 22km is a popular distance
for experienced runners or those tapering towards a full marathon and the 10km is a
distance that can be run or walked. So, we offer something for all levels of fitness. Most
importantly, we connect with the kids we care about.

I hope this blog rather long post has encouraged you to think about joining us on the KIWL
Go-Go 2020. Dates will be announced later in the year. In the meantime, learn more about
KIWL at its website And, if you want to stay informed, send your
email address to to be added to the mailing list. Drop me a line at for any direct feedback or comments you’d like to give.

Encore! Blogs from other runners
Thirsty for more reading? We have had some very encouraging recaps from other runners.

Read on.
• Mark Shrosbee, a 55km runner, wrote “At the end, a ten-year-old boy made a speech in
English. It was a charming way to finish a splendid event.” Read Mark’s full blog here
• Anna Wildman, a 22km runner, wrote, “(the children) welcomed us with a beautiful
banner they had created themselves. I was so touched!“. Read Anna’s full recap here
• Marina Yoshimura, another 55km runner wrote, “With support, the children's futures can
be much brighter than their circumstances.”. Read Marina’s blog here
• Three time runner Padraig MacColgain, wrote about the event with the kids after the
2017 run, “Then we all did the motions to the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”
which is no mean feat considering must of us had just run 55km. But the enthusiasm of
the children was infectious and we all joined in with as much energy as we had left.”
Read Padraig’s blog here

Thank you for reading this far.
Get fit, give back and have fun!

Roger Berman
on behalf of the KIWL Go-Go Charity Run

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Organization Information


Location: Nakano-ku - Japan
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @YouMeWe7
Project Leader:
Michael Clemons
Nakano-ku, Japan

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