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Running in Tokyo: Checking out the 2018 Tokyo Marathon!

Running in Tokyo: Checking out the 2018 Tokyo Marathon!

Date published: 26 February 2018
Last updated: 12 December 2018

Tokyo residents and visitors were particularly excited this past Sunday for the 2018 Tokyo Marathon! This year, over 35,000 runners from Japan and around the world wound their way from Tokyo’s famous Metropolitan Government complex in Shinjuku on the city’s western side, to Tokyo Station on the east, running past scores of cheering fans and several of the city’s beloved landmarks. As the Tokyo Marathon has joined the ranks of Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London and New York to become a member of the World Marathon Majors, many runners from abroad joined not only for the race, but to experience running in a different culture as well. And of course, Live Japan was there to report straight from the scene!

Before Race Time - Gearing Up for the Run Ahead!

Tokyo woke up to fair weather the morning of the race, with cloudy skies and temperatures around the 6°C (43°F) mark. When the Live Japan team made its way over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government complex around 6:30 on Sunday morning, it found that nearly everyone on the subways were runners, with more and more runners boarding at each stop. Some took a brief nap in on the bench seats while others were excitedly chatting away about the race ahead.

Reaching the expansive Shinjuku Station, runners were met with a score of helpful volunteers who held signs and helped people get to the most convenient exit. A number of these volunteers spoke English as well, which made things much easier for the non-Japanese speakers.

Some of the helpful information staff

A large number of information tables were set up around the main rally area, with volunteers happy to help people in English, German, Chinese, Korean and of course Japanese. Baggage forwarding services were also available to transport small luggage to the finish zone.

Luggage at the finish zone, awaiting pickup
Volunteers handing out bananas and mandarin oranges
Pocari Sweat and water were available as well

Arriving at the rally point for the race, runners were met with a number of other volunteers who handed out bananas, mandarin oranges and cups of water or Pocari Sweat – helping runners boost their energy and electrolytes for the marathon ahead.

And of course – lines formed for a last chance at the bathrooms!

And They're Off!

And They're Off!

Tokyo Marathon started in two waves, with wheelchair racers opening the race ahead of the runners. After a brief speech by the chairperson and by Tokyo’s governor, the crowd hushed as the countdown began. At the zero-second mark, the race pistol cracked and spectators and runners alike erupted with emotionally charged cheers as heart-shaped confetti billowed skyward around them.

Enjoying the Sights Along the Course!

The Tokyo Marathon covers a fair portion of the city, passing through famous sightseeing areas and past a number of iconic landmarks along the way!


Key areas shared a sense of local flavor. Running past Sensoji Temple's famous Kaminarimon gate in Asakusa, runners were treated to a traditional music performance.

Tokyo Skytree greets runners as they continue down past Sensoji temple at the 15km point!

At Ginza

Crowds at the iconic Ginza Crossing erupt into cheers as runners clear the 30km point.

In front of Daimon/Zojoji Temple

Down at the 39km point, runners pass by Zojoji Temple, with Tokyo Tower wishing them well in the background.

Tokyo, with the Imperial Palace gardens in the background

Clearing the final stretch through the streets of Marunouchi, runners finish the marathon right in front of Tokyo Station!

Incredible Helping Hands - Volunteers

Incredible Helping Hands - Volunteers
Medical personnel on standby with automated external defibrillators - for those "just in case" moments

Along the entire stretch of the marathon were a solid force of volunteers and other support personnel, helping ensure a safe, fun experience for runners and fans alike!

Bathrooms this way!
Volunteers passing out electrolyte hard candy
At the finish line, still more teams of volunteers pass out blankets, food and drinks

The volunteer force was made up of people from all different walks of life, from university students to office workers. Hiro, one volunteer, said that it was his fifth time volunteering with the Tokyo Marathon. "It makes me really happy to see people coming from abroad. I am very pleased to help out!"

Another volunteer, Hitomi, studies German as a second language and decided to put his experience to use. "Studying German is a hobby for me. I have many German friends and wanted to help support people with my ability."

Enjoying the Spotlight - The Runners

Enjoying the Spotlight - The Runners

Entrants from 91 countries and regions joined the Tokyo Marathon, the oldest of whom was aged 90 (a male runner from from Belgium), according to the official program.

Although there are a fair number of serious runners in any given marathon, there are always some people who dress up in a special way for the occasion, enjoying the fun spirit of the run and enjoying a self-challenge as opposed to competing for prize money.

Even the spectators enjoyed dressing up

This year's Tokyo Marathon practically saw it all - from people dressed in typical running gear but with a funny hat, to others wearing their favorite sports team's uniform, to folks dressed in full costume, slapping high-fives along the way. According to the Tokyo Marathon's website, over 1,000,000 spectators came out to see the race and support the runners!

Runners would sometimes pose with supporters and friends along the sidelines

Tokyo Marathon 2019 Dates

Tokyo Marathon 2019 Dates
Even other runners enjoyed seeing the costumes!

The Tokyo Marathon is one of the most energetic, exciting events to see in early spring! Be sure to enjoy it for yourself in person - the next Tokyo Marathon will be on March 3, 2019! Hope to see you there!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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