As promised, a real-real update! It’s about time I write about the happenings from the run. There’s only so much about the day the YouTube video can convey. I was going to do a play by play, but that might be painfully long. So I’ll go for the highlight reel version instead.
I woke early and headed to Hibiya City in the morning to help with setup. Tents, banners, sponsor boards, signs, and products went up. We organized a small army of volunteers to stuff the goody bags for the participants.
Participants started to show up around 9:00. We were still unprepared. We had a challenge with the t-shirts this year. 1,200 t-shirts were printed for the anticipated 1,200 participants. However, the closer we got to the run, the more we realized we were going to be well over the number. We had expected about 1,000 people to register online and via company group registration forms, and then about another 100-200 people on the day. Instead, we had about 1,300 people register online, and another 240 people register on the day. Needless to say, we were short t-shirts. We’d already contacted groups that sent their registration forms late about the possibility of not receiving t-shirts or receiving an alternate t-shirt, but we just didn’t have the inventory from past years to cover this amount of people, and we didn’t have the time or budget to print additional shirts from this year.
In an attempt to make up for this, we had to put together several different kinds of goody bags for the participants – special non-t-shirt bags…bags for people with alternate t-shirts…you get the idea. I was responsible for spending the previous several days counting, recounting, and adjusting t-shirt inventory for every new group registration form that came in. Taro and Naoko had made previous jokes about me being the “counter” for the office in the past, but it went to a whole new level right before the run. I told them that if nothing else, by the end of the internship I’d definitely know all my numbers. 🙂 The night before the event, I had it all set – who would get what, and how many, etc. On the day, of course, it all went to hell. There just wasn’t adequate time to go over the specifics with the volunteers.
I manned the group registration booth for the first part of the morning, switching between yelling at volunteers behind me for certain t-shirt sizes and answering questions every three seconds from the clearly-out-of-her-element Japanese girl at the table next to me. Once the group registrations had wrapped up, I firmly took over for her and watched a visible sign of relief appear on the faces of the next several people in line. We were well behind schedule due to the fiasco at registration, but thankfully most people were understanding and remembered the reason they were there.
After things started running more smoothly, someone came and got me from the registration table and hauled me off towards the Imperial Palace. That walk was so gloriously refreshing after clambering around in the madness that was registration all morning. People had already gathered at the starting line and immediately started asking us when the race was going to start (we were about 45 minutes behind by this point, I think). We began assembling the groups of runners (one 10K, one 5K, one 5K walkers). I put together the start/finish line and hauled it up to much cheering, only to be shut down not a minute later by the guard at the Imperial Palace screaming at us all. I called Taro asking what the hell he wanted me to do (he was still at Hibiya City managing the madness there). We ended up taking down the banner, although I think Richard the Irish designer got some photos of it while it was still up. It was kind of infuriating to have people coming up to me (who had seen the pissed off guard) asking if I’d put it back up so they could take a picture. Uh, no. You’re not special. And they were Japanese, so I knew they understood what the guard had been saying too.
Taro appeared out of nowhere and started herding remaining participants into their appropriate groups. He had me get the cheerleaders to start the first group, and off they went.
Taro had me push the starting times forward for the next groups, and then we had a glorious couple minutes to breathe. I’m still amazed at how not-mean Taro was despite being the most stressed out person on the day of the race. It was an interesting comparison to make…I’ve seen other bosses in the states screaming at their employees in similar situations…but I’m glad Taro isn’t that kind of boss.
I held the finish line ribbon while people ran through. That part was easily the best part of the experience. Although we’d started almost an hour and a half late and there had been mix-ups and confusion, almost everyone passed through that finish line with a smile on his or her face. I may have gotten a little bit sniffly.
It was a great end to a hectic afternoon. Taro sent me back to Hibiya City to help with what I could there, but it was thankfully under control by that point in time. There was food and drink, entertainment, and raffle prizes. The cheerleaders who started the race performed, and we also had a gospel group (I missed it because I was still at the course, but I’m told it was great). Our taiko friends Tawoo spent about 10 minutes performing. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of taiko. There’s just no way to experience it but live.
It was extremely loud in Hibiya City because of the tall buildings surrounding the plaza. The echoing boom from the drums was drawing salarymen out of their offices to come and gawk at the giant, bizarre pink spectacle taking place here.
Taking down everything took considerably less time than putting everything up, thankfully. Naoko and I headed back to Yurakucho station in a delirium from lack of sleep. I still remember laughing madly with her on the way there and on the train. We both headed home to try and snatch a couple hours of shut-eye before the all night party in Shibuya. I went home and collapsed immediately. I woke up to her phone call a couple hours later, but cannot remember for the life of me what I said to her. When I spoke to her later that night, she said “Alisha, you were in another world when I spoke to you. I don’t know where you were.” At least she called and got me out of bed so I could drag myself to Shibuya. I’m so glad I made it to the Dance for the Cure part of the day!
This was the first ever Dance for the Cure. Organized by the awesome Ubdobe, this was a fun-filled night of awesome music, great food, and various other entertainment. Ubdobe (pronounced Ooh-boo-dough-bay)’s “leader”ish guy Yuuk did an amazing job organizing everything. He too, was surprisingly calm the entire evening…but then again, his event went extremely smoothly. He even had time to harass me about being tired. Everything was very, very well done (at least, from my perspective behind the RFTC table).
4 fantastic bands performed that night. The genre was mostly funky/reggae-ish music. I can’t say enough good things about these artists. I was so pleasantly surprised! I got the chance to speak with this woman, Keyco. She spoke some English, but I mostly just listened to what she had to say in Japanese – she was a lovely, super-talented woman. I wish I’d purchased her CD that night…there’s none available on her website as far as I can find. Next time she has a show in Tokyo I’ll have to hit it up!
Our MC for the night was “VJ Chris” of MTV…I have absolutely no idea who he is, but he was from MTV, so that meant we got to use their logo on our promotional stuff. Hehe. Gocoo (the “parent” taiko group to Tawoo) performed along with belly dancer Kiki. Super cool.
Other random performers included a guy doing a glass ball balancing act (think David Bowie in Labyrinth, only with less spandex and glitter), full body massages, and nail art. Fantastic food was provided by Lauren, former owner of Fujimamas (now operating To the Moon and Back Catering). Every time I meet her she’s so mellow and pleasant. Awesome woman.
It was a really fantastic night, despite being dead tired. Taro brought me a Heineken around 2 AM. He always has a sense of humor. While we didn’t really sell much stuff at the table, some proceeds from the event went to the foundation. About 200 people showed up, so Naoko and I handed out 100 copies of PiNK as they exited…at 6 AM. There were a few people who were hilariously drunk, but fortunately everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I think it was a success in terms of an awareness-raising event. Lead singers (males) were yelling about how much they love boobs right in the middle of their songs. Unexpected hilarity! But hopefully effective.
I watched the sun rise in Shibuya that morning on my way to the station. I crashed on the Fukutoshin line heading home, but magically woke up at my stop. I don’t really remember the walk home. I slept harder than I’ve ever slept that day. I didn’t wake up until 11PM Sunday. It was an exhausting experience, but worth it when you consider how much we raised and (hopefully) what it’ll mean to some families out there. The run generated about 7.6 million yen, or about $84,000. Woo! Record breaking for the foundation.
Two weeks later came Pink Ball, but that’s for another post. The run was quite a day. But I’m glad I got to be a part of it. I’ll do the Pink Ball recap soonish!