Overall Rating
Overall Rating (4 Reviews)
4.5
(4 Ratings)(4 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2
SCENERY
3.5
PRODUCTION
4.8
SWAG
3.5
Unlike the other five marathons in the World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon started as a massive race from its first year. Over 25,000 runners finished the Tokyo Marathon in its inaugural year of 2007. Five years later, in 2012, nearly 36,000 runners started the race which travels through the … MORE
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Recent reviews

    Profile photo of Jackie Joseph
    Jackie Joseph FIRST-TIMER '16

    Extremely well-organized race event. Huge Expo (easy to get lost in it). Security is tight at the start. ***Long walk from finish line to post-race area/family reunion site*** Plenty of … MORE

    Extremely well-organized race event. Huge Expo (easy to get lost in it). Security is tight at the start. ***Long walk from finish line to post-race area/family reunion site*** Plenty of water/aid stations along course. Race winds past many historic/scenic sites. Course is flat with lots of spectators.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    JimChicago FIRST-TIMER '16

    Running the Tokyo Marathon is like being launched into a pachinko game. 30,000 runners shoot up from beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building into sunshine and a block-long confetti shower. … MORE

    Running the Tokyo Marathon is like being launched into a pachinko game. 30,000 runners shoot up from beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building into sunshine and a block-long confetti shower. Bouncing through tight streets, flashy sites and cheering spectators they land at the bottom of the city, the docks of Tokyo Bay. It’s World Major run through a true World City.

    Application for 2017 run is open from August 1 – August 31, 2016.
    http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/

    A runner trying to smash a P.R. will face some challenges. The course is tight and the crowds of runners are dense. Some aspects of a Japanese style run will be unfamiliar to some runners. No one wants a surprise when focused on a challenging time goal; Such as, a sugary clear drink at the aid stations that can be mistaken for water. Cherry tomatoes are a fantastic aid station offering, but we all know that Mile 19 is not the time to experiment with a new running food. If you want deep details on race conditions, feel free to contact me.

    See as much of Japan as your time and budget allows. It’s fascinating and people are very helpful to tourists. In Kyoto you can visit historic temples and shrines, and one week you run Tokyo you can cheer the runners in the smaller Kyoto Marathon. http://www.kyoto-marathon.com/en/

    Shinjuku is the perfect home-base neighborhood for exploring Tokyo. You can walk to the marathon Starting Line from Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest train station. You can get to anywhere in Tokyo or Japan from there, including Narita International Airport.

    The marathon is a point-to-point course. You’ll run 26.2 miles from Shinjuku to the Tokyo Big Sight exposition center. The Expo is also at Tokyo Big Sight and you can get there from Shinjuku by train in about half-an-hour.

    The Expo is large, crowded and exciting. Runner check-in and packet pick-up are like a shinkansen bullet train; smooth, fast and the model of Japanese polite efficiency. They make things very easy foreign runners and everywhere you look you will see someone holding a sign saying, “I speak English”, “Hablo Español”, you name it. The vendor area was not the greatest in my eyes. But I don’t really shop at Expos anyway.

    I strongly recommend the International Friendship Run 5km, held the day before the marathon. Traveling with companions who are not running the marathon? If they can run a 5km, they can part of the fun. Runners from all over the world meet for a 5km with a finish-line located at the Expo.

    This wacky event lets you meet other runners, participate in silly stretching exercises lead by adorable local school kids and meet marathon royalty (the Race Directors of all six World Majors are there, hanging out with runners). It sells out fast, is limited to 1,500 runners and costs ¥ 3000 ($29).

    The starting area of the marathon is as crowded and hectic as any other big run. The main waiting area is below ground level, beneath what an American would call “City Hall”. Most of the port-a-johns are Western-Style toilets but some are traditional Asian-Style squat-toilets. Choose your line accordingly! Getting to correct coral can be crazy so leave plenty of time.

    The course in entirely urban and very dense. The route is shaped like a four-pointed star and has two long out-and-backs sections. There are few changes in elevation. The first 5 km has a gradual descent along the Kanda River, which is really more of a concrete canal.

    At approximately 7 – 10 km the course runs along the steep walls and moat of the Japanese Imperial Palace. It is a great sight and crowds line the palace walls. In fact the crowds through-out Tokyo are some of the very largest and most enthusiastic you will ever see. There were an estimated 1.5 million spectators in 2016.

    There is a hair-pin turn at 15 km in Shinagara and runners head back toward the palace. You’ll be able to see other runners across the road street, both out and back. The route continues through the packed streets through the high society and shopping of Ginza at 20 km.

    There is another hair-pin turn at Asakusa; about 27 km. Runners pass the historic Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine complex here. Normally quiet and reverent, it is a madness of drums, bells and cheering crowds.

    At 35 km the run goes past Tsukiji-Hongan-ji, the world’s largest fish market. Hopefully you have already been there and had the freshest sushi you can imagine. Following Tsukiji the course heads into the docklands to the Finish Line at Big Sight.

    For this westerner the Tokyo Marathon was a chance to visit Japan and to run a World Major. I loved the run and the wonderful people, sights and food of Japan. Arigato gozaimsau Tokyo!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3
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    Profile photo of Jeff Rohleder
    Jeff Rohleder FIRST-TIMER '16

    Currently running all 6 of the majors. Tokyo was major number 4 and marathon number 50. Always best to start at the beginning so here we go Expo - the … MORE

    Currently running all 6 of the majors. Tokyo was major number 4 and marathon number 50. Always best to start at the beginning so here we go

    Expo – the first thing we noticed about Tokyo was the crowds. There were people everywhere. Arrived in Tokyo Friday evening before the race at 5 pm at the main subway station used by 3 million people. It seemed all 3 million were there at that time. Went to the expo on Sat. Packet pickup was easy and well organized but after picking up your packet to leave you have to walk thru the vendor area. This is an assault on your senses. instead of just the normal people behind the tables in booths there are people in the aisles yelling and screaming at you in Japanese and trying to constantly hand you flyers of who knows what. Blaring music, flashing neon signs, and what seemed like hundreds of thousands of people add to the assault.

    Tokyo – the people of Tokyo were so nice and polite. City is spotless and easy to get around on via subway and or taxi. Food was great. Great big city but it is a big city. Change the signs from Japanese to English and you could be in NY. After the race we left Tokyo and spent 4 days in Kyoto. Highly recommended. If you want to learn the history and see the major Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples be sure to do Kyoto

    The race – this is where it went downhill for me.
    The start – our hotel was right at the start. There were 7 lettered starting areas a thru g. To get to your assigned starting area you had to go thru one of 6 gates. So I was in gate 4 start F. Had to walk a mile or so to get to gate 4 to get into my starting area F which was a block from my hotel. So confused from the start but finally made it.
    The weather – great day for running. Partly cloudy mid 40’s to mid 50’s.
    The course – flat, boring and crowded. The first 6 miles are actually downhill then a couple of 4 mile out and backs before heading to the finish line. It was jammed packed with people the whole way. Never a break. So of course passing people constantly added distance to the race. Nothing to exciting to see on the course. All the majors are big city runs and I guess I am becoming jaded running by not being interested in running by the Tokyo bus station or the ministry of Health. Have run so many more interesting courses. The only really interesting part are the costumes. There were more costumes worn than any other race I have run. Anything you can think of. Don’t know what any of them had to do with running or marathoning. The finish was horrible boring – in the parking lot of a coliseum type building which they then funneled you thru. Took about an hour to get thru shuffling a step at a time with the thousands of other finishers.
    Crowd support – unbelievable. Bigger and better than NY or Chicago. Of course everybody was yelling at you in Japanese but still fun.

    So overall final comments. Japan was great. People and food were great. Marathon was boring but well run. Kyoto was great. So to do the six majors you have to do Tokyo but don’t expect any wow factor at all. Just another big city marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    Profile photo of Donn Raymond
    Donn Raymond FIRST-TIMER '16

    From the start, you notice that the organization of the Tokyo marathon is awesome. The expo was large, covering 2 floors, but spread out enough that you weren't overwhelmed. Lots … MORE

    From the start, you notice that the organization of the Tokyo marathon is awesome. The expo was large, covering 2 floors, but spread out enough that you weren’t overwhelmed. Lots of souvenirs were available with the chopsticks, labeled “Tokyo Marathon 2016” quite popular. Because it is run in winter, there is a late start, 9:00, so getting up at 3 a.m. is not necessary.
    On race morning it was still pretty chilly. Though they break the runners into a number of “gates”, it still seemed very crowded and chaotic. Nonetheless, you knew where you were to go, and at what time. They had quite a few Porta potties, including a number of “Western style”, so if one needs to go poop, they can choose their style. And they were plentiful along the course, although at times you had to go a ways off course to get to them.
    The course was awesome. Obviously you ran the streets as you are in a city of several million. They traversed the city well taking the runners by a few beautiful sites. By train, it takes over an hour to get to the finish line so I believe the organizers gave the runners a great tour through Tokyo.
    As in many big city marathons, the finish line arrives, and then the long trek through the stadium begins. I believe it added 2 more miles to my run, but heck, I walked and I ate. The best peanut butter sandwiches ever!
    The crowds along the course we’re amazing. Every step of the way you had locals and visitors cheering you on. Although there was a plethora of water stops, the beautiful people of Tokyo were also handing out drinks, oranges, candy bars and a whole bunch more options. I would say the locals LOVE the marathon and are proud to display their beautiful city. As they should be.
    And finally the swag. The t-shirt was just okay. White (ugh) and a funny textured material. A finishers towel was given upon completion and then the medal. Simple, but gold and elegant. One of my favorite medals.
    The Tokyo marathon is a fantastic destination race.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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