Ok this is a month after I completed the marathon – but I was supposed to have done this marathon in 2021!
This was the first time since 2019 that Toyko had welcomed international runners back to the marathon and they still had a lot of covid protocols in place, so I am sure for anyone doing this in the future this wont be the same and some of our experiences will have been because of this.
The Expo was one queue after another (The Japanese love a queue) from confirming your health app to picking up food! We gave up on the queue for the official merchandise as we had been told we would be over an hour and a half from where we were, but this was all due to the covid restrictions. The actual expo I felt was not that good but I also felt the same at Boston last year just don’t think they are all back to pre-covid.
They did not have the usual Friendship run on the Saturday but I am sure that will return next year – this year it was a virtual run with an actual finish line!
The race starts in front of the Government Building in Shinjuku and finishes in front of the entrance to the Imperial Palace with Tokyo Station at the back of you. The route itself is very out and back and for us I would say very flat so a good PB course if you wanted to race it. I think the last section of out and backs is the worse as you see people about to turn into the final km and you just want to turn and join them. But it was good to see the elites pass by - even though they were a good 15+km ahead of me
The start area is split into groups I think it went from A to L with everyone having a separate entry area. I never used the bag drop facility but looked as organised as all other events. One word of warning is with the toilets yes they had load of portaloo but if they don’t say western style on them then be prepared for a Japanese style toilet! There were a lot of toilets on the course but some were sometimes 500m off course, there were signs letting you know how far off course they were and then also a sign to let you know when the next toilets were.
The volunteers and crowd were absolutely amazing and kept you going all the way around, add in all the entertainment on the course then it did make up for all the out and backs!
There are very strict cut off times on the course so for anyone who is an over 6 hour marathon runner these would need to be checked out to ensure you can make it as unlike other courses you actually do get stopped and can not continue!!!
The finish area was again well organised with foils, water, food then the lovely towel robe!
But for me the highlight at the end had to be not picking up my Tokyo Medal but my Six Star Medal and sharing the experience with so many friends – old and new.
So if you fancy a trip to Japan highly recommend mixing a holiday and marathon, we went out on the Monday arriving Tuesday am and flew home the following Monday. We stayed in Shinjuku which was perfect for everything and the transportation system once you get used to google maps is so easy to follow. Timing wise we were not suffering jet lag by race day but would maybe recommend if you can going out for longer post run as there is so much to see and do and even going further afield like Kyoto, Japan really is a beautiful country.