Last December, Mayor Seishi Kohyama of Kumamoto, Japan – one of San Antonio’s nine Sister Cities – invited San Antonio runners to participate in the Kumamoto Castle Marathon as a gesture of goodwill between the two cities. One San Antonio runner, Christopher “The Irish Goat” Knodel, answered the call and will travel to Kumamoto to participate in the marathon that takes place on Sunday, February 16.
Kumamoto, with its rich cultural heritage and economic strength, became San Antonio’s Sister City in 1987 and has provided many great benefits to San Antonio including the authentic Japanese Garden, otherwise known as “Kumamoto En,” built in 1989 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Most materials came from Kumamoto along with a team of experts and gardeners to oversee its design and construction. In 2013, Mayor Kohyama attended the 25th anniversary celebration of the San Antonio/Kumamoto Sister City relationship, which was held at the garden.
“Sister Cities bring exciting exchanges at all levels of society with foreign communities,” said Sherry Dowlatshahi, Chief of Protocol for the City of San Antonio International Relations Office. “The City of San Antonio is excited for Chris Knodel to have an opportunity to take part in this exchange while participating in something he is truly passionate about. We wish him the best of luck in the upcoming marathon.”
Now in its third year, the Kumamoto Castle Marathon commemorates Kumamoto becoming an ordinance-designated city in 2012. The 26.2-mile course winds its way through Kumamoto’s picturesque streets past several historic sites. Kumamoto Castle is one of Japan’s most famous castles and provides a wonderful example of Japanese art and culture.
A devotee of fitness and healthy living, Knodel has competed in more than 200 events, ranging from Ironman triathlons and Powerman duathlons to ultra-marathon and international stage races. Knodel owns and operates Irish Goat Multisport, a coaching, personal training and weight management facility in San Antonio. He also works as a trainer at Run Wild Sports, coach at R&R Fitness and writes a weekly fitness column for the Sanford Herald.
“I am very excited to represent San Antonio in this event,” Knodel said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for me to experience Japanese culture while doing what I love most, running.”
The City of Kumamoto will provide hotel accommodations, a welcome reception, sightseeing opportunities, fee waivers for the marathon and transfers between the Kumamoto Airport and hotel. All other costs are the responsibility of the participant. Also participating in the marathon will be runners from Kumamoto’s other sister and partner cities including: Heidelberg, Germany; Aix en Provence, France; Kaohsiung, Taiwan and Shanghai, China.
More information about San Antonio’s Sister City Relationships is available at the City’s International Relations Office website, sainternationalrelations.org.