Flights to Tokyo can be booked now so why not let the team at Travelling Fit help by booking your preferred airline on the dates that best suit you. We can arrange your complete holiday package all in the one place to help you save time and money.
The Tokyo Marathon is a large-scale international marathon race with a total number of runners capped at 35,500.
The new course that was introduced last year for the Tokyo Marathon has the Marathon start at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku with the new finish line near the Imperial Palace in Gyoko-dori.
From the start, the course will take runners through Kanda, Nihombashi, Asakusa Kaminarimon, Ryogoku, Monzen-nakacho, Ginza, Takanawa and Hibiya and runners will cross the finish in Gyoko-dori at Tokyo Station.
Have you thought about extending your stay? Check out our amazing optional tours to make your holiday the trip of a lifetime.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for helping me achieve the six star medal, it has been a bit bumpy the last few years with DVT’s and injury but we got there in the end and I could not have done this without Travelling Fit. As you know I have run many marathons around the world mostly on my own but the ones I have enjoyed the most are when I travel with you guys (New York, Berlin, Tokyo and London); you take away all the stress of where to stay and how to get to the start line to name a few, and of course you attract all the right people (us runners). Anyway, I will be looking for the next challenge, hopefully to travel with you guys again in the near future.
My reservations about value for money when first thinking about this were blown away. Everything from the venue, to the food, to the entertainment was excellent. Sunroute Ariake Hotel was great, useful for the Expo, Felt a bit isolated from the city centre, but that was my choice. Your team is always prepared to help, however trivial the request. Arigato Team Travelling Fit. You put on an excellent show for Tokyo
Thanks Travelling Fit in making it possible and so enjoyable to be able to travel with you every step of the way around the world to complete the 6 Star Marathon Majors. It was a very special day to be able to finish them all and get the medal with my good mate Rob Richards in Tokyo. We passed each other at the 36 km mark on the run, he was on the way to the finish & I was on the way out: We stopped hugged, took photos & said we got this now, such a good moment for us both, priceless in life. Thanks again for all your support.
Now we are home and reflecting on a wonderful trip, Lynne and I would like to thank you and Travelling Fit for your superb organisation of the Tokyo Marathon. We loved our accommodation, the day trip to Mt Fuji and other places was great and the Tokyo tour and organisation of registration went very well. During our stay we were delighted to mix with a wonderful tour group who were all very friendly and supportive. The lunch on the day tour and the pre-race evening pasta meal was particularly good and offered a good chance to mix with other people. We appreciated your friendly welcome and work while we were in Tokyo. We were always clear about what was happening and the whole trip went exceptionally well. We look forward to signing up again for another Travelling Fit event. Very much appreciated.
It was great having Travelling Fit Staff at the marathon, it makes everything so much easier & takes out all the worry when travelling, as it's looked after by you guys: Keep doing the awesome job your doing: You give service Plus. Thank You for making it such an enjoyable organised event for me: See you next time.
I had a great time in Tokyo, it was an amazing marathon. The marathon itself was just fantastic, it was great coming across the finish line then getting a towel placed over your shoulders and having all the volunteers putting up there hand for a slap and saying well done. It was so well organised, thanks for your support during the event, hearing my name being called out during the marathon really spurred me on. I did a PB 3:41:13 I had taken 18 minutes off my previous PB for a marathon. Woo Hoo :) All in all it was a great job done by you and Travelling Fit in organizing the whole trip. I look forward to doing another overseas marathon with Travelling Fit somewhere in the near future, take care of yourself and thanks again.
Thank you so much for such a smooth running Tokyo event. Both Lee and myself were very impressed with the professionalism of Travelling Fit and how helpful you are. We loved the marathon and both had positive experiences.
Out of the 10 marathons I have run, this was one of the best organized and most enjoyable events. A big thanks to you for the excellent organization of the travel arrangements. The proximity to the start line was really great as there was not much waiting and the return bus from the finish also worked very well. Looking forward to joining another Travelling Fit trip.
Just a quick note to say thank-you and let you know that everything went perfect on our trip to the Tokyo Marathon. Once again Travelling Fit showed their true professionalism and we had no problems at all with our ground transportation, hotel and of course Karen’s participation in the marathon a very satisfying 3hours 43 minutes 12 sec. As you are aware Karen has now completed her 1st “Bucket List “completing all the world major marathons but I just wanted let you know we will definitely contact you again for future half marathon trips.
Flights and Additional Travel
Travelling Fit is a fully accredited travel agency which offers a full range of services to our clients. This enables us to book your flights and additional touring to help us assist you in creating your perfect holiday experience.
Guaranteed entry into the Tokyo Marathon is included in your marathon package
There are no qualifying times for the Tokyo Marathon
The Tokyo Marathon will commence at 9.10am
There is a 6 hour 40 minutes cut-off for the Tokyo Marathon
The race will be timed using timing chip technology
Bib Number must be picked up between Thursday 22nd – Saturday 24th February during the Tokyo Marathon EXPO 2018 (Tokyo Big Sight West Exhibition Hall)
Pace setters will be present, wearing orange coloured bibs to enable runners to spot them along the course.
These pace setters will be targeted to complete the event in the following times:
- 3 hours
- 3 hours 30 minutes
- 4 hours
- 4 hours 30 minutes
- 5 hours
- 5 hours 30 minutes
Note: these times are subject to confirmation and may change
Personal Refreshments and Clothing
Personal clothing can be placed in the baggage deposit bag you will receive at registration.
Your bag will be available for collection at the end of the race.
Starting at the 5km water will be available every 2-3kms and sports isotonic drinks every 5kms.
Food such as bananas, bread and sweets will be available from the 22km mark.
Note: these are subject to confirmation and may change
The Keio Plaza Hotel is within walking distance of the Starting Area.
Bus transfers from the finish area back to the hotel are included in the price of your package
The “TOKYO MARATHON EXPO 2018” will be open with lots of exciting exhibitions located at the Tokyo Big Sight.
Since all runners are required to register at the EXPO, this ensures that an estimated 35,500 runners in addition to their families and friends will visit the Expo.
Location: Tokyo Big Sight West Exhibition Hall
Address: 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo
- Thursday 22 February 2018 – 11am to 9pm
- Friday 23 February 2018 – 11am to 9pm
- Saturday 24 February 2018 – 11am to 8pm
NOTE: The venue will be open for entry until 8:30pm on Thursday & Friday and until 7.30pm on Saturday
Finishers T-shirts, Medals and Certificates
All entrants will receive an event t-shirt.
All finishers will receive a commemorative medal and the certificate will be sent in the mail.
The average February temperature in Tokyo is between 2 degrees Celsius and 10 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 10km Race – This event only accepts the following competitors: Runners who are aged between 16 and 18 years of age on the race day; those who are visually visually impaired, intellectually challenged or are organ transplant recipients
- Tokyo Marathon Friendship Run – Saturday 24th February
Tokyo Marathon – The day we UniteTokyo Marathon 28 February 2016- The day we unite My Journey to Tokyo began in September 2015 when I missed out on the ballot entry. The day started with my husband being hospitalised and me being ...
Tokyo Marathon 28 February 2016- The day we unite
My Journey to Tokyo began in September 2015 when I missed out on the ballot entry. The day started with my husband being hospitalised and me being advised that I could not run Sydney marathon on the upcoming weekend. Somewhere in amongst this “nightmare” I had an email saying my entry had been received and declined. I thought nothing more of it and concentrated on running Melbourne in October. I was surprised to find out a couple of weeks later that my ever supportive husband had arranged for an entry via Travelling Fit for his deflated marathon obsessed wife and was thrilled that I would be getting the opportunity to run a major international marathon and take our children on an amazing adventure. Training began right away (not that it had ever really ended from GCAM 2015).
Landing in Japan on Thursday we were hit with a blast of cold air, ridiculously different from excruciatingly hot Brisbane. The flight from Brisbane was full of runners and the atmosphere was starting to build (not to mention I was emotional and felt more determined to prove what women were made of after watching Suffragettes on the plane).
Friday was our Tokyo Tour with Travelling Fit with the tour culminating at the race expo. The race expo itself was worth the trip. It was ridiculously well organised (a sign of things to come in the marathon itself), with levels and levels of running paraphernalia. Unfortunately by the time we got there after the Tokyo Sky Tree and Sensoji Temple my kids were losing it so I couldn’t go wild with the credit card. We quickly backed up from Friday with a trip to Tokyo Disney on Saturday, yes probably not the wisest move the day before a major marathon but I am a Mum and we are on a family holiday- it’s not all about me running THAT marathon as my children have kept reminding me.
Finally the day arrived. I woke up and followed my usual routine; music pumping, bath, body glide, black coffee, winners bar. The kids eagerly watched out the window as the police presence began to increase, runners appeared from every building and helicopters buzzed overhead. In true Japanese style there was nothing left to chance and the day was executed with absolute precision. I kissed my family goodbye and wished my husband the very best of luck at Legoland- he needed it much more than me! I rushed down to the lobby for my Travelling Fit group photo and walked into an international mixing pot of runners. There were war cries, flags, painted faces and photos this was truly an international major and I was part of it.
I made my way to my gate and stood in the freezing cold in my garbage bag and several layers of disposable clothing and beanies. It was a sight to see; running minions, running princesses, running star wars characters- every second person was in elaborate costume and no one seemed to bat an eyelid. Here I thought I was going all-out with a temporary tattoo of the Australian flag on my face! Whilst standing and freezing in my garbage bag (remember I’m a Brisbane girl), I was excited and bewildered and horrified to realise a TV crew were making a bee line for me. “Do you mind if we interview you for our national TV?” “Really? I’m wearing a garbage bag…” I happily obliged despite my horror. I still have no idea what channel or news item it was but hopefully they will be in touch so my kids can have a laugh.
Before I knew it the gun was going off, I was stripping off and confetti was flying. The atmosphere was amazing with people lining the streets and calling out “Go Aussie girl”. With no pacer in my pace range I spent the first 10km holding myself back “you control the race, don’t let the race control you”. People were going out very fast and it’s so easy to forget how far a marathon is and not to get swept up in the emotion. I know the race starts at 30km and I needed to be very much in control until that point. So I watched and listened and smelt and tasted everything that was the Tokyo marathon. I high fived and sang and danced my way through YMCA blaring out of speakers. I spoke to runners from all over the world and most of all I smiled and laughed.
The dreaded wall eventually came and I remembered just how hard those last 10km can be. It becomes a matter for the mind with games of “2km until the turnaround, 1.5 parkruns to go, 1 foot in front of the other”. By this stage with no pacer and my watch so far out, I was running painfully and blind. Swept up in the atmosphere I eventually reached the longed for finish line with a wave of applause.
My time was not what I had hoped and by my watch I ran much further than I should have- 43.51k (a common problem for most of the runners at this year’s marathon I later learned) but a marathon is a marathon and this was a major so I refuse to be disappointed. I’ve gained experience and I’ll take those lessons with me into GCAM and Sydney this year. I read a quote this week and I think with marathon running it’s quite apt “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary”. I will come home from this experience with a new medal to add to the collection and a desire to work harder in training and treat the finish line of a marathon with the respect it deserves. I will continue to face my races with love and laughter and be grateful for everything that running brings to my life.
Tokyo Marathon Race ReviewThis was my first visit to Japan and what a blast! I travelled with my husband and running partner, Stefan. We decided to spend two weeks in total in Japan. We arrived 1 week prior to the race and ...
This was my first visit to Japan and what a blast!
I travelled with my husband and running partner, Stefan. We decided to spend two weeks in total in Japan. We arrived 1 week prior to the race and bought the 14-day Japan Rail Pass and travelled around the western part of Japan before and after the race. The JR Pass is highly recommended if you plan to travel around. Just make sure you get the pass prior to travelling as you cannot buy it in Japan. The train network can be overwhelming at first as there are so many different ways to get to a place. But everyone is so polite and friendly in Japan, you can easily find locals to help you.
We stayed at the Keio Plaza hotel in Shinjuku. The location of the hotel is very convenient, close to Shinjuku station which is one of the major station in Japan. The hotel is only a 10 min easy walk from the station. All around Shinjuku there are plenty of restaurants and entertainment. I would recommend walking around the red light sections of Shinjuku (which is on the other side of Shinjuku station, away from the hotel) as it is quite an experience. There are also little alley ways where you can eat Izakayas (Japanese street food) – just find the busiest place and try to squeeze in.
We travelled to the Expo on the Friday before the race. I always get a little choked up when I get to the Expo. This is my fourth Marathon Majors and the Tokyo one is one of the most efficient in terms of collecting the race bibs – it literally only took us 5 mins and no queuing! The Expo is big but since you don’t have to queue, you can easily cover the whole Expo in 1 hour or less. Note, you cannot exchange you shirt size so make sure you order the right size – if in doubt order a larger size.
There was an International Friendship Run on the Saturday morning prior to the marathon. It is only 5kms and a good warm-up event. We registered for the run but didn’t end up running on the day as we did a lot of walking while travelling around Japan the week prior and wanted to give our legs a break and save them for the race! If you are staying next the Expo, then definitely worth registering for this run and you get advance viewing of what the last 0.2km of the race will look like on race day!
There are so many things to do in Tokyo – four days was not enough!
As usual, the night before the race, we laid out all of our running gear and tried to have an early night.
We woke up early the next morning and could see all of the volunteers and organisers setting up outside the hotel. We could also see Mt. Fuji from our room which was unexpected.
There are about 3 different restaurants serving breakfast at our hotel. We just had a light breakfast on race day. Two of the restaurant serves breakfast buffet style and one served a Japanese breakfast. We tried the Japanese breakfast the day after the race and it was awesome, they serve the breakfast in a bento box and it looks so pretty.
Since the start gate was in front of our hotel, we had a pretty cruisy stroll to the start line. Finding the right baggage truck took a while as the trucks were not in number order! Once we checked in our bag and found our gate, we waited for the race to start. It was fascinating watching the other runners, I have never seen so many colourful outfits and costumes for a Majors. People watching definitely made the waiting more interesting.
The event started at around 9am but we didn’t cross the start line until about 10 mins later. There was a guy in front of us dressed as a Buddha statue and we couldn’t believe how fast he was running with all the gear he was carrying. The same guy finished ahead of us…yes, we are not a fast runner!
It was amazing to see the costumes, there were heaps of guys wearing full suits, I saw at least 2 cat woman, minions, boxers, Superman, Donald Duck, where’s wally and loads of random outfits. I wished I bought a costume of my own! Entertainers lined the side of the streets, YMCA was played in both English and Japanese! There were Japanese drummers, traditional dancers, hip hop dancers, school kids and many other entertainers.
We spotted the Travelling Fit support crew at about the half way mark. The giant Australian flag was a great way to spot them. It also helped that Mitch is about 3 meters tall so you could see him a mile away! It was good to see familiar faces in the crowd.
I couldn’t bring my hydration pack so relied on the drinks served by the organisers. They serve Pocari Sweat throughout the race. It taste like lemonade and I quite enjoyed it. There are heaps of drink tables and everyone seems to go for the first table, so it is worthwhile going to the later tables, definitely less congested.
This was the first race where I have seen tomatoes and bread offered at the food stations. We grabbed some tomatoes, there were red and yellow ones – both equally delicious! Plus the tomatoes provided a much needed change in flavour from the copious amount of gels I have been consuming.
There are also heaps of people in the crowd offering food such as lollies, but I wasn’t game enough to try them.
The race course itself is pretty flat, other than the downhill for the first 5kms and uphill for the last 5 kms. The course loops a bit, so you can see the more advance runners a few times on the course. The first 35kms you are in the city center covered by tall buildings, but towards the end as you head for the Tokyo Big Sight, you start to see more space. There are also less crowds between the 35km and 40km mark. This is also when the ramps/hills starts to appear. If you live in Sydney and have done a few hill runs, you won’t even notice there is an incline. But if you are not used to hills, make sure you save some energy for these hills. We saw quite a few runners having to stop and walk up the hills.
I had Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” playing as I tackled the last hill at the 41km mark – could not have asked for a better song or timing!
They don’t provide markers for from 1km to the finish line. If there are, I couldn’t see them. So it was a nice surprise when all of a sudden I saw a sign saying there is only 195m to go!!
We tried to sprint as fast as we could to the finish line and managed to finish just under 4:30 which was a PB for my husband! So we were both happy with our times, especially considering we had a toilet break during the race which took us about 10 mins due to the queue. This was my fault for water loading prior to the race. Not sure why I did that considering there are drinking stations throughout the course.
The highlight of the race was definitely, my husband getting a PB, spotting the Aussie support crew, seeing the other Travelling Fit runners throughout the course, and the crazy costumes. Out of all the races I have completed, I think I smiled the most at this race – even after the dreaded 32km point I was still smiling!
The local supporters are great, not only do they offer food, a lot of them also offered pain relief sprays.
When you cross the finish line, you get a medal and a Tokyo Marathon finisher towel. You also get alcohol free Asahi and a goodies bag. Collecting your bag at the end was very seamless. We had to catch the bus back to our hotel, we didn’t have to wait long to get in the bus.
My husband is a reluctant marathoner and he usually finish a race with a comment about how he doesn’t want to do anymore. This is his third marathon and to my surprise, when I started talking about the next marathon we should do, I didn’t hear the usual objection from him. So I think he really enjoyed Tokyo.
This is our second trip with Travelling Fit and as always, the team was great at supporting us, before and during the race. Thanks Felicity and Mitch! Hope to see you again at our next marathon adventures!
Tokyo MarathonAfter an overnight flight from Sydney my friend Samantha and I arrived at the race expo on Thursday at Tokyo Big Sight and met up with friends from Sydney who were running on Sunday. There was a ...
After an overnight flight from Sydney my friend Samantha and I arrived at the race expo on Thursday at Tokyo Big Sight and met up with friends from Sydney who were running on Sunday.
There was a dedicated pick-up line for the number card for international runners before we entered the expo foyer. The foyer had a history of the past Tokyo Marathon events and an outline of the course with the names of all 36000 runners in Kanji script for the Japanese runners and English for the international runners.
With a little help from Samantha we were able to find our names near the 25k and 35k marks on the map. We entered the expo to find booths with event souvenirs and various promotions including the ‘wearable tomato project’ from the sponsor Kagome. Tomatoes were to be served at the food stations during the event. There were demonstrations of a device to deliver tomatoes from a container on a runner’s back, over their head and into the runner’s mouth, all done while running.
The final exhibit in the hall (or so I thought) was the gigantic “Ema” or wooden plaque. This is to allow runners to offer wishes for success in the event. The event organisers organised for a priest from a temple famous for the Idaten, the God of speed to pray for everyone on the gigantic “Ema”.
We thought that was the end of the expo so we went downstairs to find another exhibition hall that resembled the “Royal Easter Show” for runners. In the words of Jake Blues from “The Blues Brothers”, “This place has got everything”.
There were over 100 exhibitors in total across the two floors, complete with a food court.
One of the advantages of staying near the expo was the chance to make multiple visits. We made 3 visits to the expo and collected a total of 8 cans of Asahi beer from the “Asahi Dry Zero” booth.
On the Saturday morning before the event there was a 5k warm-up event for the international runners at Tokyo Bay. The event finished with a run down the last 195 metres of the marathon course to the finish.
The highlight of the 5k event was the kangaroo suit onesies complete with replica joey worn by other members of the Travelling Fit group. The group became the stars of the event and were were even interviewed by a media crew. We brought along a green and gold Australian flag and were pictured in the video at the post-event function. Samantha completed her first 5km event as well.
The alarm went off at 5am on race day. We arrived at the hotel restaurant at 6am to find a queue with other marathon runners ready for the “breakfast buffet sprint”. After a breakfast of porridge, fruit salad and yoghurt it was time to catch the bus to the start at Shinjuku.
After a 40 minute bus ride on the expressways of Tokyo we arrived at the start. We met the other Travelling Fit runners in the Keio Plaza hotel foyer and posed for group photos before heading to the start.
There was a 400ml total of liquids that could be brought through security, so there was no water bottles being brought in. There were baggage checks and metal detectors similar to those found at an airport to walk through. I found baggage car number 80 and headed to corral D to wait 45 minutes for the start.
The event started at 9:10am with blasts of confetti. The confetti had finished falling by the time I crossed the start line 3 minutes later. I was joined by a couple of the Travelling Fit runners at the 13km mark and we commented on the size of the crowd and gave each other encouragement.
The support crew (or the non-runners from the Travelling Fit group) navigated the Tokyo subway system to support the runners. Felicity from Travelling Fit and the supporters were at the 21km mark, 35km and 41km marks cheering and taking photos.
The course itself has a downhill section from Shinjuku for 5km, then takes a plus-sign like route from Shinagawa in the south, back through Ginza. The course then has an out-and-back section to Ueno in the north to the turnaround point at the Kaminarimon Gate then back to Ginza to the 35km mark. The final section of the event is through the fish markets of Tsukiji before reaching the finish at Tokyo Big Sight. The highest point of the course is approximately 40 metres at the start with a downhill to sea level by 5km so there is an opportunity for fast times.
I was happy with my performance of 4:03. This is despite not being able to do any long runs since Christmas due to a knee injury.
The highlight of the event was the support on course from the “Team Smile” event volunteers. There were volunteers located every 100 metres or so with a plastic bag for rubbish. Drink stations provided Pocari Sweat sports drink, volunteers at food stations served bananas, tomatoes, bread and sweets. Locals offered all sorts of treats from the roadside. Music and dance performances were located at various intervals beside the course with the beat from a taiko drum troupe accompanying runners across the finish line.
After collecting my finisher medal, finisher towel, drink and food I arrived at the baggage pick up area to find all the volunteers clapping and cheering. The effect of the volunteers clapping and cheering in a massive hall holding nearly 36000 plastic bags was amazing.
Post race drinks were held at the “Polestar Bar” in the Keio Plaza hotel. Stories of first marathon finishes, personal bests, a sub 3 hour run and Boston qualifier times were told over drinks overlooking the metropolis.
The Tokyo Marathon is promoted as “The Day We Unite” and this was evident over the city the whole weekend. Even the lights on the Tokyo Tower were changed to black and gold the night before the marathon. A special thanks to Felicity and Mari-Mar from Travelling Fit for all their support in preparing for the trip and especially over the weekend of the marathon.
Tokyo Marathon Race ReportI have wanted to visit Japan since the age of 18. On 22 February 2015, at a little over the age of 18, I even ran the Tokyo marathon to make it seem (in some perverse way) more decent.... or ...
I have wanted to visit Japan since the age of 18. On 22 February 2015, at a little over the age of 18, I even ran the Tokyo marathon to make it seem (in some perverse way) more decent…. or something. It was so, so, so, worth it.
I would do it again, in a heartbeat! My good friend and travelling companion, Jodie & I had a ball. At the end of our all-too-brief time in Japan, at Tokyo’s massive Shinjuku subway station (boasting over 200 exits, used by over 3 million commuters per day), hurrying to board the Narita Express to catch Sydney-bound QF22, I threw a little tantrum. With my wheelie suitcase behind me, I suddenly stood still, stomped my feet on the ground, pouting: “Jodie, I don’t want to go home! I want to stay in Japan!”
We had such a great time: Jodie is a superb Japan tour guide and a wonderful, highly organised and efficient person (but, then, that’s old news…). She takes advantage of the opportunities which life offers her. She will also devote heaps of ‘can do’ energy to making opportunities happen. Most importantly, however, as we both sleep very soundly, neither of us can confirm or deny the snoring allegations (which have been levelled at each of us). It doesn’t get much better than that!
I organised this marathon through that very fine travel agent, Travelling Fit of Terrigal (thank you, Felicity Kent and Mari-Mar Walton!). In about April 2014, when I said that I was planning to run Tokyo, Jodie (dog park mate: her schnauzer, Ruby and my border collie, Felix, are great mates), immediately offered to come. I did not fully appreciate then, my immense good fortune in having the benefit of Jodie along for a Japanese adventure. She’s lived in Tokyo with her clan (then 7 year old triplets) for 2 years, she has a solid command of Japanese and – critically – she is familiar with the Tokyo subway system. For one with my severely challenged sense of direction, this is a major bonus.
We stayed in the very massive Keio Plaza Hotel in the Shinjuku district (where most of the movie “Lost in Translation” was filmed) and ate thebest breakfasts! Thank goodness for Jodie’s familiarity with the Tokyo subway system. With its myriad of exits and three underground levels of platforms (gulp!), it was from Shinjuku station that we started all of our journeys. I love my Pasmo card!
Our first day was perfect: it was all new to me and Jodie had arranged beautiful weather. I was thoroughly delighted to wander around, visiting her former Tokyo neighbourhood haunts. A big focus for us both was the food in Japan; we ate supremely well. The gastronomic part of our adventure began with excellent coffee (Italian Segafreddo in Hiro-o) and nostalgic melon buns for Jodie from her much-frequented bakery, Kobeya Kitchen. We lunched at the modest, inexpensive but deeeeelicious ‘Soup Stock’. We spent quite some time in a totally crazy – only in Japan – store called ‘Tokyu Hands’. It is difficult to do it justice with words but suffice to say that we came close to buying something on every floor of that multi-level retail insanity (except the floor which sold pet mice)! After a tour of the spacious and classy Tokyo Lithuanian Embassy in Minato-Ku, we were the dinner guests of the very fine, diligently solicitous and generous Egidijus Meilūnas, the Lithuanian Ambassador to Australia & NZ, his totally charming, considerate and multi-lingual wife, Galina and Inga Miškinytė, the attaché to the Embassy, very lovely and every bit equally as charming and, naturally, also multi-lingual. We had a perfectly lovely evening, most interesting conversation. I had the first of several Japanese lessons.
Day two saw us at the busy, bustling, exciting and awesome Tsukiji Fish Markets. We ate monster-sized bar-b-qued scallops in their shells, sampled all sorts of things (not being always 100% sure, what they exactly were in each and every case) and did some great shopping. Next stop was the Tokyo Marathon Expo over the Rainbow Bridge at Ariake in the Odaiba district (think: Sydney’s Darling Harbour on steroids). As with all WMM Expos, it was massive, including uncharacteristically ‘in your face’ marketing from the Japanese. A ‘heads up’ for anyone wanting to buy Tokyo marathon Expo gear in western sizes: go to the Expo early on Day 1 as they sell out of ‘western size’ shoes and caps (the Japanese typically have small feet and quite large heads). The 2015 Tokyo marathon edition of Kayano 21s is fluoro yellow, complete with a course map on the inner sole (love that!). They had run out of my size by the morning of day 2, but, happily, it’s not as though I’m short of running shoes.
At the Tokyo Expo, the World Marathon Majors (“WMM”) Series proudly promoted its new name sponsor, Abbott, an Illinois-based global healthcare company. Abbott is the first WMM title sponsor. For those not in the know, WMM is a partnership of the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons. It is a sterling example of very inventive and, I imagine, highly successful marketing. Abbott’s sponsorship’s motto is: “Life … to the fullest.” Abbott came on board in 2015, introducing a slightly re-vamped format for the series.
The most off-beat Tokyo Expo display was devoted to proclaiming the virtues of the humble tomato as runners’ super food. Naturally, this included Japanese dressed as huge tomatoes. Of course, tomatoes, alongside bananas, were available at food stations on race day!
Other highlights included: a visit to the architecturally truly stunning Tokyo National Art Centre at Roppongi in the Minato district, selective shopping (very cool paper shops, quirky odds & ends shops), uber-good bargains, at Kabukiza Theatre, we saw Japanese Kabuki theatre (traditional, culturally significant and very, very well-executed, but thank heavens for the English translation on the hired headset earphones), enjoyed a pre-race pasta/pizza/rice carbo-loading dinner with Travelling Fit runners (incl a Kiwi runner who ran Tokyo as his 147th marathon!) – lots of fun, met Rob de Castella and his Indigenous Marathon Project runners (more about them later!), I ran a pretty damn good marathon on the cleanest, tidiest and most well-oiled course, EVER (more below), we had post-race drinks with the runners in the …ahem….rather pricey Polestar bar on the 46th floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel. Of course, as I have come to expect, we met another charming Strider, Dave Hazelwood, who ran a scorcher (3:08). Some pretty fast Tokyo 2015 times were posted by the Travelling Fit mob!
It was Jodie who spotted Rob de Castella on our Tokyo-bound flight. We next saw him, together with runners from his Indigenous Marathon Project (“IMP”) at the luggage carousel and at the hotel, at breakfast and at the expo. I recognised one of Deek’s IMP runners from the ABC documentary a few years ago. Charlie, I’m guessing, is in his late 20’s. He had run New York as his first marathon with Deek’s coaching and got to the Tokyo start line with a 3:22 PB. I had asked Charlie about his race plan for Tokyo. His very sage and positive response: “To feel good at 30K”. Happily, Charlie was generous enough to allow me to use that as my race plan, also. I embraced it and thought about it a lot in the days before the race. I attribute my pleasing Tokyo result to that positive thinking.
I recommend Tokyo as a fast course, very flat but with uphills in the last 5K (not very friendly). Be warned: late February Tokyo weather is likely to be cool! Finding one’s way to the start corrals was a bit chaotic, but, once inside, it was seamlessly organised; the course was, hands-down, the cleanest, tidiest, close to totally rubbish-free experience! AMAZING! No crunching of drink cups underfoot at drink stations in Tokyo, no way, no siree! Arigato! Gambatte to all runners!!
The course is very much in metropolitan Tokyo. For Tokyophiles: Marathoners start in Shinjuku at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Buildings heading due east; at 5K, run north to Kagurazaka, then south-east past the Imperial Palace Gardens (very easy on the eye!); at 10K, they turn due south and run 5K to Shinagawa; turn back and run along the other side of the road back to Hibiya (21.1K mark); at Ginza, they turn north-east and run to Azumabashi (just past 27K), then back to Ginza (again, on the other side of the road), pass the Kabukiza Theatre at 35K and, with the Tsukiji Fish Markets on the right of the course, continue over four – mercifully short – bridges (none of which seemed to me to have a compensatory downhill portion for the initial uphill!) called ‘Tsukudaohashi’, ‘Asashioohashi’, ‘Harumbashi’ and ‘Shinonomebashi’, finishing in Ariake at the Tokyo Big Sight, with the ‘Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park’ at the 41.5K section of the course…. It is a very, very well-planned course; every bit as well-supported in terms of first aid, water/sports drink, nutrition options (including tomatoes) and thousands of happy, cheerful, most enthusiastic, hard-working and diligent volunteers, as are all WMM events, but much, much, cleaner. There were also 28 “events” along the course, ie, entertainment to distract runners, such as the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Band, plenty of Japanese folk dancing in traditional dress, the Imperial Guard Band, hula dancing, four taiko drum displays, the Tokyo Fire Department Band and portable shrines. They provide lots to consider other than one’s pace and the fact that stopping for a break would be rather nice!
I have some community service bulletins for the first-time Tokyo runner, here is one: The ‘A’ start group, contrary to what one might expect, is not, repeat, not all the uber-fast runners. The ‘A’ pack is at the front of the 36,000 entrants, just behind the invited, predominantly East African gazelles. While there are some very quick runners indeed in the “A” start corral, it is simply reserved for members of the Japanese Athletic Federation. So, along with the sub-2:30 pack, are those dressed as Minnie Mouse, edamame beans, sumo wrestlers, super heroes, toasters, sushi rolls, Elvis Presleys etc, etc. One needs to negotiate this mob, lucky it’s – somewhat and for the most part – entertaining. The stand-out dress-up (see Jodie’s photo at 35K): a runner dressed in a single-shouldered leopard skin print caveman mini-dress, a black ‘afro’ style wig, carrying a stuffed toy patagosaurus (about 600mm long!). His timing chip was on an anklet because he ran in pink thongs on his feet; at 35K, he was at 3:30 pace!
In response to terrorism concerns, over 60 Tokyo running police, wearing white ‘POLICE’ vests, contributed to ensuring a safe marathon, running about 10K each and carrying anti-terrorism gear in small backpacks. There were also heaps of runners wearing ‘DOCTOR’ vests, as well as quite a few on bicycles, just scoping out the crowd. This was in addition to serious-looking medical aid tents starting at 5K, and every 5K thereafter.
But perhaps the single most distinctive feature of this marathon was the unbelievable cleanliness of the course. With over 15 million people living in Tokyo metro area alone, it is one amazingly clean & tidy city. Nevertheless, to carry that over into a marathon in which some 36,000 runners take to the streets with their gels, water & sports drink cups and keep it rubbish-free, by which I mean spotlessly tidy, during a race, is an incredible achievement. In Tokyo, there were gazillions of volunteers, all members of a squad called ‘Team Smile’. They were amazingly supportive and enthusiastic, clapping their white-gloved hands incessantly, shouting “Gambatte!” to all runners. They wore black pants, white gloves, a regulation shirt covered by a loose smock, proclaiming …you guessed it….’Team Smile’. Most of the sports drink and water stations (of which there were 15 on the course) consisted of at least 10 tables, punctuated by three massive rubbish boxes in between each of the tables. Each table was supremely well-staffed by white-gloved Team Smilers. There were – literally – thousands of them. Team Smilers held plastic bags open for runners’ rubbish; at many stretches, they were ‘on duty’ every 20 metres or so. If a runner’s aim happened to miss a rubbish bag, a Team Smiler promptly darted out onto the course to whisk it up. Naturally, most of the Japanese competitors ran over to the rubbish bags and placed their rubbish into the rubbish bags. That is, after all, where rubbish belongs!
It is my practice to regularly, frequently, audibly and as enthusiastically as I can, thank volunteers in the races which I run, especially marathons. These events simply would not work without them. My race plan includes the kissing of at least one volunteer during a race. In Tokyo, I was feeling very good at the 15K mark, so I ran right up to a Team Smiler and as he took a rather startled backwards step, I grabbed the poor fellow by both shoulders and after repeating “Arigato Gozaimashita!” (“Thank you very much!”), I fairly lunged at him, planting a sweaty kiss on each of his cheeks. The initial horror of his fellow Team Smilers very rapidly turned to smiling, nodding, giggling and staccato-clapping encouragement.
I was to have met the Lithuanian embassy contingent at 21.1 (reached in 1:45) but sadly, that plan did not come to pass; too much congestion. I re-calibrated (love a good re-calibration!) and, having felt good at 30K (Thank you, Charlie!), shifted focus to anticipating seeing Jodie at 35 K…. and I did! She was resplendent in the fluoro pink Tokyo marathon shirt which we had agreed that she wear (for ease of spotting her in the throng), shouting “Ginta! I’m here! I’m here!”. I ran over to her, we shared a particularly smelly hug, proclaimed our love for one another and, as her trembling hands peeled the banana which I had requested, she dropped it! Never mind, she had Plan B (banana #2) but that didn’t stop me bending down to pick it up, nearly seizing up in the quad muscle department. Nevertheless, onward: still 7.195K to go.
By the 35K stage of the race, I found it mentally more straightforward and appealing to approach each K on a stand-alone basis. I did not check my time at all for the last 5K; I had simply resolved to run each individual K as fast as possible. It sounds weird, but I drew strength from the fact that I had felt good at 30K. Every K after 37.195K, there was a sign proclaiming “5K TO GO”, “4K TO GO” and so on. At the 42 K mark, with only that last, veeeeerrrrrry long 195 m left, and with the massive finish gate in plain sight, there is a mock finish gate, proclaiming, in HUGE FONT, the very welcome message: “LAST 195”. Terrifically motivational. It certainly seems as though this course was designed by a committee of very experienced marathoners. I know we were all shuffling by that point, but in our own deluded and unhinged minds, we each looked like Usain Bolt in an Olympic final! When I saw my time was 3:43, I cried….my second-fastest marathon result ever and I have now completed the WMM series. (No, I do not now propose to take up on-line chess!)
Because I know how runners love stats, the hard facts, according to Tokyo Marathon website:
My net time: 3:43:15
6,437th out of 34,063 finishers overall
360th out of 2,513 55-59 y/o runner finishers
749th out of 7,227 female finishers (not too sure about this statistic…)
61st out of 181 Australian finishers
Charlie ran 2:56.
On our last day in Japan, following Jodie’s inspired plan, we caught the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Karuizawa and had an outdoor onsen in the snow (!) at Hoshino. We had one of the very best meals of our lives at ‘Kawakami’, a little café in Karuizawa… our few days were just so jam-packed and wonderful! I love Japan.
Tokyo marathon 2015
Bib number E85231
Tokyo – How to run a “PR” MarathonSo I rose at 4:30AM and looked out the window to see a light drizzle. The weather report called for the rain stopping and then starting again in the afternoon, pretty accurate here. I showered and put...
So I rose at 4:30AM and looked out the window to see a light drizzle. The weather report called for the rain stopping and then starting again in the afternoon, pretty accurate here. I showered and put on my gear, changing to a less warm top than I had planned. I went outside to feel the temperature and feel the rain and I was not sure if I wanted to take my cap and gloves as it seemed somewhat warm. Good thing I took them, as it was cold at the starting line.
I had a monster sized banana, some Japanese blueberry yogurt and some coffee and then proceeded to apply Body Glide where it counts. I did a good job except from one area…and you really don’t want to know where that is…too much info! I carefully packed into my running man-purse the appropriate amount of flavored gels, some cash, and my cell phone. I put on my rain jacket and my trusty running shoes that combined have been on at least six continents. I was ready to go on the 6:45 bus for delivery to Shinjuku where the race begins.
After a 45 minute ride, we arrived at the Keio Hotel where we met up with the rest of the Travelling Fit Group. A few group shots, some “What are you going to run this in?” exchanges, and off we went to Cell Block E. You had to be in Cell Block E by 8:30 or you would lose yard-time for the day. The warden is very strict here! Imagine a sea of people, 36,000 of them, directed by the police and volunteers through six Gates and into 10 holding areas. But first, through security, because after Boston they are very strict and I also think that they are practicing for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. No water over 100ML allowed in, they search your every crevice and you go through metal detectors. Once you are in, you need to act tough, because the other inmates want to size you up…but I was ok. We got to our cell block by 8:30 with time to spare and then had to wait till 9:15or so. It was cold, so everyone kept on their jackets, plastic bags or blankets. Some discarded then early and they ended up on the floor. The good ones we re-used by those who did not bring enough warm clothing, the others were collected for donation I believe. When it was time to go, people started tossing stuff right and left to discard the heavy clothing. It was hilarious, kind of like watching the Mets mascot shoot T-shirts into the crowd with the air-gun. Anyway, with cannon blasts and confetti the race started a few minutes late. It took us about 2 minutes to finally waddle through the starting line, and away we were.
The rain had stopped by now but it was still somewhat cold. There were spectators everywhere throughout most of the race, and I imagine that due to the weather the numbers were smaller than normal. I started off running well in a large crowd. I had intended to follow a runner holding a sign for 4 hours but I am not sure where he went. Then, for a while, I followed a banana. Well that is to say a person dressed up as a banana. The banana slipped away from me as well. I remember what one of the Travelling Fit organizers suggested, which was to take it all in, and that is what I intended to do. So with that, I set into a relaxed pace for the first 10k. In my mind I had split the race into four 10k’s and I intended to do each in a minimum on one hour. That would then leave me 2k to finish somewhere at the 4:15 mark. At least, that was the plan.
I was surprised when I reached the first 10k and I was at 56 minutes and change. That meant that I had cut 3 minutes and change from the last 2k and if I kept that pace up for the subsequent 3 x 10k’s I would have 12 to 15 minutes to possibly break 4 hours altogether. Well, that was what I was thinking, but my main goal at 20k was to feel good so I could go on. Somewhere at 17k I passed Mary or she passed me…not sure which one it was but we ended up with a similar time at the end but never really saw each other. I don’t recall seeing her, I was in a trance…and 35,000 other folks were as well.
I passed the Imperial Palace twice, the Imperial Hotel twice and the Palace Hotel twice and finally arrived to the 20k mark. I had gained another 2 minutes so I was slowing a bit but felt good and was making progress at eating into the last 2k of the race. At the half-way mark, 21k, I registered 2 hours and 1 minute. “Doable” I said to myself. I was going easy, not blowing myself out early and I felt good.
Then came the third 10k, I was taking gels every 45 minutes and the flavors were very good. On the sidelines, they offered peeled and sliced bananas, small tomatoes, candy, and bread that I never saw. So I think in terms of nutrition and hydration I was doing it just about right.
I did my usual body check at 21k. Toes – good (check), feet – good (check), calves – good (check), knees -good (check), quads and thighs – good (check), future hernia or appendicitis ok (yes…check), breathing and heart seemed right as well. So I kept on going.
But I was slowing down. I noticed more people were passing me but not a big deal because there were plenty of people ways behind me. They say at 30k you hit a wall. My plan was to get to 30 and feel ok and then think of the remaining race in 5k increments. A 5k is for babies after all, so that would be easy. I had trained to 32k, so in my mind I thought I would be ok.
At the 30k mark I looked at my time and it was 2:57. That means that I had given back 4 minutes and I did this last 10k at 1:04. However, I never hit that wall. Instead, I started to get lightheaded. I checked my heart and my breathing and that was all good. I touched my face and I noticed that it was dry. I needed more liquids. I took them in, but for the next 5k from 30 to 35, I struggled. It was almost like going in and out of consciousness but not that severe. At least I didn’t wake up on the ground with a bloody face. I told myself to focus and get to the last 5k and then it is home free with a 2k sprint.
Tough! I had slowed down more! Much more! But I was determined not to walk as the lactic acid builds up quickly and then you cramp. Got to 35k, and I said to myself, one more 5k….it’s for babies!
That was the hardest and longest 5k I have ever run. I was slow but took in one last gel and for a little while that boosted me, but not for long. At 37k the countdown began….5k to finish, then 4k then 3k…but it took a long, long time! I hit 40k with 4:07 so I had really slowed. Now for the 2k sprint in!
Nope, those were the longest 2 kilometers of my life! I kept on looking for the finish line, like a desert wanderer looks for the oasis but it would just not show up! Finally, over the hill and bending to the right is what must be the finish so I kicked in the turbo and went for it. I was surprised that I still had some energy as I started to pass others. My theory is that people see you at the finish line not at 34k when you are delirious, so you need to keep some in the tank. But wait! That was not the finish line – wishful thinking! That was the 42k gate!!! You still have 195 meters to go, because a marathon is 42.195k….damn! So, I was pissed off and now turned on the Nitro, and surprise, surprise it worked as I passed more and more people. I probably gained about 50 people in my sprint but lost 2,000 in my second half of the race. Every little bit counts.
Several times I was close to cramping and I simply thought to run through the cramps. That worked until the finish. After making it thought the finish line and accepting my medal, a great Japanese Hisamitsu Salonpas Air-Jet pain-relief spray, my lucky-lucky finishers towel, water, a banana, an orange and two tomatoes (yes after-all tomato is a fruit), I needed to keep on moving at risk of collapsing into cramps. Cramps all over, the bottom, the side…you name it. Thankfully this event is so well organized that you spend literally the next 30 minutes walking like cattle through pre-designated stalls until you are out of the slaughterhouse. Some massages and food were available to the runners, but the lines were so long and I just wanted to get back to the hotel into a warm bath. I did pick up an Asahi beer for my troubles, only to find out that it contained zero alcohol – rats!
So after 30 minutes, and at risk of collapsing into a cramp-induced comma at any time, I got there. Feeling a little better now but I am not sure that I can stand up! We will see in a minute.
So…would I do a marathon again? I need a couple of days to think about it. All I can say is this one is superbly organized and all of Tokyo seemed to be involved. I am very, very impressed. I would recommend it to all you marathon maniacs, and suggest that you use Travelling Fit in Sydney, Australia to get you in as a group. They do excellent work and I am considering signing up for another event with them.
Oh, by the way, my time…4:23. Not bad for this oversized, 50 year-old first time marathoner.
Keep on moving!
Adrian D. – Hong Kong
WELCOME TO TOKYO
Travelling Fit is pleased to announce that we are again the official Australian sales agent for the Tokyo Marathon 2018 and are therefore able to offer you a four night Marathon package inclusive of guaranteed race entry. We have four packages for you to choose from, all staying at the Keio Plaza Hotel which is ideally located within a short walking distance to the race start.
Packages 1 and 3 offer the basics but with the choice of either a standard room or a premier grand room. However packages 2 and 4 offer the same choice of accommodation but include a limited-edition Tokyo Marathon Jacket for the runners and the amazing Celebration Party which will blow you away.
The Tokyo Marathon rates as one of the largest running events in the world with total number of runners capped close to 36,000. The course is relatively flat, starting in Shinjuku in the city and finishing at the Imperial Palace. The Tokyo Marathon is one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.
Travelling Fit is an accredited travel agency which offers a full range of services to our clients. This enables us to book your flights and additional touring to help us assist you in creating your perfect holiday experience.
NOTE: The land arrangement is operated by KNT, Japan.
- Guaranteed race entry (Runners Only)
- 4 Nights' Accommodation
Check-In: Thu 22 Feb; Check-Out: Mon 26 Feb 2018
- Breakfast Daily
- Entry to the Tokyo Marathon Friendship Run 2018 on Saturday
- Bus Transfer from Marathon Finish Line back to the Hotel
- Special invitation to the Official After Run Party on Sunday (Applies to Packages 2 and 4 only)
- Limited edition Official 2018 Tokyo Marathon Jacket (Applies to Packages 2 and 4 - Runner only)
- Personalised Travelling Fit 2XU Running Top
exclusive to Travelling Fit clients
- Invite to Travelling Fit exclusive VIP Facebook Group
exclusive to Travelling Fit runners
- Travelling Fit Representative on site and available for questions
exclusive to Travelling Fit clients
- Taxes and Service Charges
Deposit: $950 per Runner; $600 per Supporter
2nd Installment: $1250 per runner and $900 per Supporter due no later than Friday 15 Sep 2017
Balance: Friday 10 Nov 2017