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Tokyo Marathon

RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '18

Tokyo Marathon

This was my first international marathon and it was a doozy! I had been to Tokyo once before so I knew I liked the city and the culture, and I … MORE

This was my first international marathon and it was a doozy! I had been to Tokyo once before so I knew I liked the city and the culture, and I was excited to run my first international marathon at this particular WMM. It did not disappoint. Though giant city races are not my favorites at all, I do enjoy them from time to time. I view these iconic marathons as bucket-list races, and am happy to do them once and be done. Chicago, NYC, Boston, and now Tokyo, have all been fantastic for their own reasons.

It is a long trip to Japan but well worth it. Tokyo Marathon is probably the most well-thought-out and well-organized race I’ve ever done, and considering the size of the city and the logistics involved, it’s impressive they pull it off so well. We stayed closer to the finish area near the Imperial Palace (a quick 5 minute train ride from Tokyo Station for us to get back to the hotel (Prince Gallery Hotel, it’s luxurious but if you’re an SPG member and can use points, it’s soooo worth it). The subway and train system is superb and we purchased PASMO cards at the Narita Airport so taking the train everywhere was a breeze. We took the train to the expo on opening day (Thursday) and I was glad we did. There was already a line waiting to get in but everything moved quickly once they opened the doors. There’s a lot of security associated with the race; as a foreigner, bring your passport to get your race number, then you get a wristband that gets scanned race morning and they take a photo of you with your number. You get your shirt and then follow the yellow path through the enormous expo. There was a ton of stuff to see and lots of swag. The assortment of official race shirts was astounding; I bought two nice marathon shirts and a pair of gloves, plus the race teddy bear and some bib magnets. I did hear that the expo on Saturday was insane, so if you can go on the first day or even the second, do!

Amongst all of your stuff from the expo will be a map with very useful start and finish area information including what gate you have to enter through. You also get a 24 hour metro pass. I was a “white bib” which showed I had elected not to check a bag and would get the cool Tokyo Marathon poncho upon finishing. This was the first year for the poncho, so not sure if they’ll keep doing that or not. Jumping ahead, it was a very cold after finishing the race – walking through the chute toward the exit I received a nice navy blue fleece zip up jacket and then the race poncho on top of that, which helped enormously!! You also get a finisher towel and a few goodies to eat and drink. I absolutely am glad I didn’t check a bag.

Jumping back to the race, it’s you and 35,000 of your closest friends. Getting to Shinjuku from where we stayed was a cinch. Everyone else seems to like to stay in that district but I am happy with our choice to stay closer to the finish; it’s quieter and not as crowded and busy as Shinjuku plus it’s less than ten minutes by train. Once at Shinjuku station, we just followed the crowd out of the station to my numbered gate. They had volunteers with signs pointing you to the right area. Security to get in (especially without any baggage) was quick, not sure about later as I got there around 7:15am. They are strict on what you can bring with you (i.e. liquids) so check the handbook to make sure whatever you bring is allowed. I used the facilities then went to my corral (D…corrals go from A to L and are easy to find and enter). The race started right on time at 9:10am, I crossed the line maybe 3 minutes or so after the gun.

It’s a big city race and the crowds are fantastic pretty much the whole way. There are several out and backs and never really any “quiet” areas. I saw the elite men run by on one out and back which was very cool. While it never thins out too much, I didn’t find the race to be too overly bunched though I probably weaved and darted enough times that I added another .3 miles to my distance. Water and Pocari Sweat (the electrolyte drink offered) were fairly frequent though only on one side of the course so keep your eyes peeled. I loved that sports drink but did order some from Amazon before leaving for Japan to make sure it didn’t cause any stomach issues. It’s tasty! This race is amazingly clean too; volunteers were everywhere and cleaned up any cups or other garbage that missed the trash bins so you never felt like you were slipping around on wet cups or Gu packets.

The course itself is fine. The roads are great, no potholes or obstacles. It’s a city course so not a lot in terms of scenery though the cityscapes are kind of cool and there are some iconic sights here and there. The crowds make up for any lack of actual scenery. Lots of costumes and other on-course entertainment.

The finish area was a little anti-climactic but it’s also a new course and a new finish area, so maybe they’ll improve that for next year. You walk a pretty good distance from the finish to the medals and ponchos, and even further for any baggage you might have checked. Again, it was frigid so I was happy to get that poncho!! The medal is very pretty and almost elegant in a way. It’s not huge, but the ribbon is beautiful and its simple design is very Japanese. Tokyo Station is right there so my husband and I were able to meet up at our train and take the quick ride back towards our hotel, after making a stop for ramen at our favorite ramen house!!

I highly recommend Tokyo Marathon for anyone looking for a cool marathon, and international experience, or a tourist/marathon destination. Obviously it’s one of the Majors already so if you’re chasing those, it’s already a must-do, but I really loved it and feel blessed to have gotten in through the lottery on my first try. Good luck to any and all who run it next year!

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5
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Minocqua No Frills Marathon

Profile photo of Aaron Shaw
shawa2007 FIRST-TIMER '17

Minocqua No Frills Marathon

A race with more frills then advertised!! The north woods of Wisconsin offers a cooler late summer climate for a beautiful 'rails-to-trails' course. One of the many awesome half marathons … MORE

A race with more frills then advertised!! The north woods of Wisconsin offers a cooler late summer climate for a beautiful ‘rails-to-trails’ course. One of the many awesome half marathons in WI.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?