It was a really great experience overall and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering putting it on their list of marathons to run. I went through a company I have used in the past Marathon Tours & Travel ( http://marathontours.com/index.cfm/page/Home). Once again I was really happy in the service they provide. I am using them for the London Marathon in April and will use them for more trips in the future. They don't pay me to endorse them but it is nice to have a company in charge of most of the logistics of running a marathon in a foreign country.
I flew to Tokyo on Wednesday and due to the 16 hour time difference I arrived on Thursday afternoon. There was a 2 hour bus ride from the airport to the hotel then I picked up schedules and guides from the desk the marathon company had in the lobby. I immediately unpacked changed into running gear and went to the hotel gym and ran 3 miles on the treadmill and stretched. After a 12 hour flight I wanted to loosen up and had to keep the runstreak going plus I figured it would help me sleep because it was after 9 pm by the time I finished.
The next day we had a sight seeing tour of a Shinto shrine, Buddhist temple and places throughout Tokyo. After that we went to the marathon expo. The expo is not as big as the other marathon majors and they had limited choices on apparel that you could purchase. It seemed more like a place for the sponsors to advertise. Note: the marathon shirt itself was a yellow shirt that was small on me but you can't exchange it so I ended up purchasing another marathon shirt that is red and fit me.
We had a group pasta dinner that night at a local restaurant (along with a beer for me because I always have a beer the night before a race). After that it was back to the hotel to rest for the race the next day.
Race day weather was overcast, cool and it was sprinkling at times. I made my way to the starting corral after I checked my bag. I had brought along throw away sweatpants and long sleeve shirt because I heard you have to wait a bit before the start. While it was chilly it was not that cold but I am glad I brought along things to wear before the start. Right before the start I discarded my shirt and sweatpants then the gun went off and they shot off confetti and we were off. Well in a big race you are not really off you shuffle towards the start because I was in corral D but once we got to the start we started moving.
Here are the things I remember from the race:
- As in most big marathons running etiquette gets thrown out the window. There are people that cut across your line, stop at the first water stop or will stop and start walking in random areas.
- I ended up running 27.2 miles according to my Garmin and I trust it because many others in our group said they had almost 27 on their devices. I used the bathroom near the 10k mark and once I saw the sign I took off for it and it was in a park near the course. As it turned out it was a ways away and added over a 1/3 of a mile to my distance just going to it and back to the race route.
- The electrolyte beverage they had was Pocari Sweat which I actually liked better than Gatorade or the stuff they have in races in the US.
- From about mile 15 -22 I ran near a guy who would yell something out in Japanese every now and then. I had no idea what he was saying but found it somewhat motivating.
- I looked at my watch at the halfway point but never looked at my watch after that until I finished. I started doing this several races back and for some reason I run faster when I don't look at it constantly.
- As soon as we got close to the finish and after we crossed it seemed like every person took out their phone or a camera and started taking pictures.
- Even though I was in Corral D there are lots of people in earlier corrals who you end up passing.
- The course itself is somewhat boring in that you have two down and back sections so you see the runners making their way back from where you are going.
All in all it was great experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of doing an overseas marathon.
On Monday I took up to Nagano with the tour group and got to go to the monkey park up there in which I saw this:
Update: One of the bad parts I recently found out about the Tokyo Marathon is the official pictures. In the bigger marathons I usually by a picture or two through the official race photographers. I am used to paying a bit more for these because they have to pay for their costs for all the pictures they take. Instead of the usual pricing of various pictures for a certain price they offered one price for all the pictures and that was it. The price for that package was about 180 USD which is more than the cost of the race itself. Frankly this cost is absurd so I will not be purchasing any pictures from them.