2019 Tokyo Marathon: What You Want To Know
2019 Tokyo Marathon: What You Want to Know
last updated Jan 30, 2019
Before Race Day
When should I arrive?
The Tokyo Marathon takes place on Sunday, March 3 (2019). Ideally, you would arrive on Thursday – giving you enough time to collect your race packet and browse the expo on Friday, thereby avoiding peak congestion on Saturday. It’s also entirely possible to arrive on Friday and pick up on Saturday.
Though not recommended, it’s not impossible to arrive on Saturday, grab your race packet, and settle in for dinner and a good night’s sleep. However, those flying from afar may need to consider how jetlag will affect performance.
Where should I stay?
Save yourself stress and sleep in just a little longer by staying close to the start venue. There are several hotels near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and in the general Shinjuku area. Hotels to consider include:
Hilton Tokyo (make sure it’s Hilton Tokyo, not Tokyo Bay or Tokyo Odaiba)
Keio Plaza Hotel
Keio Presso Inn
Even if it is just the night before the race, staying near the race site means you won’t need to rush on the morning of your race! You should even be able to take a casual warm-up walk or brisk jog to your corral.
When will the expo be? When can I pick up my race packet?
According to the 2019 Tokyo Marathon website, the expo will be open on the following dates/times:
February 28 (TH), March 1 (F)
1100-2100 (admission closes at 2030)
March 2 (SA)
1100-2000 (admission closes at 1930)
What should I expect the 2019 Tokyo Marathon expo to be like?
The 2019 expo will not be entirely contained indoors as it has been in previous years. Based on the above image rendering and the official Tokyo Marathon Foundation website (source), visitors should expect an open space with several tents.
Air ventilation and temperature is expected to vary greatly. Visitors should check the weather forecast beforehand and dress appropriately. This may include bringing rain gear and extra layers. Additionally, keep in mind that Odaiba tends to be very windy due to its location.
Check out the vendor list here (English).
Can someone else pick up my race packet? What about by-proxy race packet pick-up?
All Tokyo Marathon participants must be physically present to collect their race packet. Proxy race packet pick-up is not permitted for security reasons.
Does the Tokyo Marathon operate an online store for the purchase of Tokyo Marathon souvenirs and goodies?
Yes, the Tokyo Marathon has an online store – go here.
However, the items available for purchase are very limited, everything is only in Japanese, and items can only be shipped to a domestic address in Japan.
What’s the difference between the expo and the race packet pick up?
In short, the expo is open to the public and the race packet pick-up is only for registered runners. The entrance for race packets is closely monitored with limited access. Runners will receive their wristbands, have their photos taken, and receive their race packet, including race shirt. Foreign nationals must be processed through specific booths staffed by speakers of other languages.
The expo is broadly divided into two areas. Sponsor exhibits and promotional displays make up one area – most items are not available for purchase. A second area consists almost entirely of Tokyo Marathon paraphernalia and sponsor goods. Towards the end of the expo on Saturday evening, visitors can expect better bargains and slashed prices.
Race Day - Before the Race
How are corrals assigned?
Corrals are assigned based on your reported finish time.
If you aren’t in line to enter your corral by 0845, you will start at the very back.
What is corral placement like?
In short, corral placement looks like this:
Elite athletes, invited athletes, and wheelchair athletes
— start line —
Block E, including 10KM
What’s security like on race day?
Race security is a priority for the Tokyo Marathon. Hence, all runners must wear their Tokyo Marathon wristbands which includes a chip with details of vital information, including a photo of yourself with your bib.
Before entering a corral, wristbands are scanned to ensure the face and bib match. Additional security measures include baggage inspection, metal detectors, and strict limitations on hydration units, including water bottles and nutrition.
Your entrance gate is printed on your bib. As a means of controlling congestion and limiting confusion, runners must enter their assigned corral via the appropriate entrance gate. Signage is aplenty and volunteers will happily assist those lost or confused.
That said, Shinjuku is a huge area where even the most seasoned of locals will get lost. If you have time, it’s a good idea to do a walk through to mentally map out how you’ll reach the race site and gate area before the day of the race.
Spectators will not feel an overt security presence on the course. Of course, some areas will be cordoned off and spectators are not permitted near the finish area.
How strict are they if you arrive late to your corral?
We can’t stress enough that you should be in your corral before the cut-off time for when corrals close. There is less than half an hour between the time corrals close and the marathon starts – plan wisely!
2018 Tokyo Marathon
Corrals open at 0800
Corrals close at 0845
Marathon starts at 0910
What’s the weather going to be like on race day? How humid or dry is it? What should I wear?
In 2018, the Tokyo Marathon experienced temperatures ranging between 3 to 9 degrees Celsius or about 38 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. With the relatively late start to the race, runners saw a combination of cloudy overcast skies and rays of sunshine.
It is drier than the Sahara in Tokyo during the winter. You can expect your lips to become chapped, unless you utilize precautionary measures.
You will spend a fair amount of time outside facing the elements before the start. Wear layers you don’t mind throwing away (don’t worry, these are donated to charitable causes) and bring a plastic poncho or foil blanket. You can purchase ponchos at Daiso (the 108 yen store), wear a large trash bag, or recycle items from a previous race.
Explain the water bottles rule.
No glass bottles, aluminium cans, metal Thermo bottles, or plastic PET bottles. Bottom line – no water bottles. They are very strict about this and will show no mercy in confiscating your bottles. Once confiscated, you will not be able to reclaim it. Aerosol and spray items are also banned – unless it is clearly a medically necessary item, such as an inhaler.
The best solution is to bring an empty hydration pack or handheld and hope that you’ll be able to fill it up once you are past security.
Last year, security permitted runners to bring unopened gels and nutritional items, such as gu gels, Clif Bloks, etc. Of course, unopened sponsor items such as Calorie Mate jelly, Pocari Sweat jelly, and Body Mainte jelly are welcomed. Each individual item had to be 250ml or less for a combined total of 500ml or less. Similarly, runners were permitted one unopened aerosol/spray items of 120ml or less, limited to either the Air Salon Pas (120ml or less) or Anessa Perfect UV Spray Aqua Booster.
The Race Itself
What’s the finish like?
The finish is where the 2018 Tokyo Marathon often received demerit points.
While the Tokyo Marathon is organized top notch from start to finish, runners should be aware of the VERY LONG WALK from the finish line to receive hydration, collect finisher entitlements (towel, medal, foil blankie, etc.), and gather any personal belongings at the various collection points.
Of course, there’s a chance that they’ll “fix’” this come March but it’s better to be prepared for a long walk, than be surprised with a short, quick one 😊
If you are collecting personal belongings from bag drop, it’s a good idea to deposit a coat! It doesn’t take long for the adrenaline to wear off and the bitter winter cold to set in. There’s nothing like ruining your time in Japan with cold symptoms or feeling rotten on the flight home!
If you’re meeting friends and/or family, have a plan! Keep in mind that phone signal can be unstable during the Tokyo Marathon. To be safe, have a Plan B!
Are there mile markers?
In 2018, distance markers were only measured in KM – except at the halfway point (13.1 miles). You should either rely on your Garmin for mile measure or “practice” running in kilometers.
What’s the bathroom situation?
Bathrooms are plenty on the course! Throughout the 42.2KM, there will be clear signs indicating the distance to the next set of bathrooms, as well as signs directing runners towards the toilets.
At each toilet facility, there will also be volunteers ushering runners towards the fastest queue. If you can’t wait for a port-a-potty or simply can’t hold it in, runners are also welcome to use the Tokyo Metro toilets, Toei subway toilets, and 7-11 convenience store toilets along the course.
What will aid stations be like?
The 2018 Tokyo Marathon featured fifteen aid stations – about one every 3KM or 2 miles. See below for descriptions of nutrition and hydration at each aid station.