Tokyo Marathon 2014: What to expect

Tokyo Marathon 2013 and Tokyo Marathon 2014

Tokyo Marathon is an annual marathon in Tokyo, Japan sponsored by Tokyo Metro. With a usual over-subscription rate of 10:3, the chance to participate in this prestigious 42km race is competitive. For information on how to register for Tokyo Marathon 2014, click here.

Note: Registration for Tokyo Marathon 2014 is closed, and Registration for Tokyo Marathon 2015 will open soon. The Tokyo Marathon 2014 date has not yet been decided.

Contestants for Tokyo Marathon were decided by lottery; if selected the entry fee is 10,000 yen for participants living in Japan and 12,000 yen for participants residing outside of Japan. If you weren’t selected by the lottery, you can pay a hefty fee for “special entry.” Celebrities and die-hard Tokyo Marathon competitors are known for doing this. For more information, look at the Tokyo Marathon site.

But let’s say you’ve entered Tokyo Marathon. Or, like me, you hate running, and just want to go to Tokyo Marathon 2014 to watch the race.

Here’s a small sample of what you should expect:

1. Costumes

The most famous aspect of Tokyo Marathon 2014 will be the costumes, in my opinion. The most famous aspect of any of the Tokyo Marathons is not the winner(s), but the costumes that the other participants wear.

Tokyo Marathon 2013 costsumes

Yes, most marathons have costumed runners. However, Tokyo marathon takes that to a whole new level. Some of the return costumes I am expecting are:

  • Jesus
  • The Genie from Aladdin and other lovable Disney characters
  • At least 50+ Michael Jacksons (with varying levels of costumes, representing both black and white Michael Jackson)
  • Several transformers
  • Mainstream Anime characters
  • Non-mainstream Anime characters
  • Samurai
  • Runners in drag
  • People wearing animal/character footed pajamas
  • Food, fruit, or vegetable full-body costumes
  • An assortment of wigs, character hats, and Disney headbands
  • At least 50+ Waldos

Tokyo Marathon 2014 costsume

2. Lots of foreign participants

Tokyo Marathon attracts participants from all over the world. While good number of these participants are battling competitively (the winners for the men’s Tokyo Marathon 2013 and Tokyo Marathon 2012 were both from Kenya; the winners for the women’s Tokyo Marathon 2013 and Tokyo Marathon 2012 were both from Ethiopia), a majority of foreign participants entered the marathon just for fun.

Tokyo Marathon 2014 costsume

The running community is great; the sidelines are full of support and free food. Most of the foreigners I saw were also in fun, elaborate costumes. Running in any of the Tokyo Marathons is a great experience.

(I expect the winner for Tokyo Marathon 2014 will be foreign, but we have to wait for the results to see).

3. None of the winners will be in Costume

Have you tried to run 42km in costume? While most of the people who join and run in Tokyo Marathon 2014 will be doing it just for fun (and wear costumes), none of the winners will.

They are serious runners.

4. An over-excited crowd on the sidelines

I had a wonderful time on the sidelines for Tokyo Marathon 2013. It was incredible. I can’t wait to drag my husband along to the sidelines of Tokyo Marathon 2014 (we will be married by then). If I get my say, we will be giving out cups of Aquarius and fruit on a toothpick.

Tokyo Marathon 2014 costsume

5. A couple people will collapse from exhaustion or injury

One of the reasons I detest running was because I did cross-country for a year when I was 11 years old. And I did long-distance track for several years in middle school. Neither were by choice; I have “fond” memories of vomiting after running too much or feeling light-headed from a heat-stroke (have you ever tried running long-distance in a Texas summer? It’s awful).

I love watching most sports, marathons are no different.

However, when I see a participant fall from exhaustion (especially when you look a tv playbacks near the finishing line) or get injured, I feel awful. It actually makes me feel sick. The further along the track for Tokyo Marathon 2014 you wait, the more people you will see collapsing or stopping.

Thankfully, last year I only saw three people “go down.” I was at the 30km mark.

I suspect at Tokyo Marathon 2014, as long as you wait any time after the 20km mark, you will see a couple runners collapse.

Tokyo Marathon 2013 and Tokyo Marathon 2014

6. More costumes

Seriously. I can’t sell how awesome the costumes for Tokyo Marathon 2014 will be. A lucky friend of mine was selected for the lottery (lucky her), and she is already working on her “Alice in Wonderland” costume.

There are going to be fantastic, funny costumes at Tokyo Marathon 2014. I guarantee it.

7. To get yelled at by some of the volunteers

The problem with being a “Blogger” (I’m using the term loosely here) is that the crowds make it impossible to take good pictures. I ended up standing on the fence, balancing against a tree , for about an hour with some other older guys (with much nicer cameras), before a volunteer came along and yelled at us to get down.

My next perch was slightly in front of the fence. About 20 minutes later, a different volunteer came by and yelled at us to get inside the fence. There’s just no pleasing these people (I’m kidding, I know they are just trying to keep us safe).

So expect that at Tokyo Marathon 2014 if you’re trying to take pictures of the funny costumes.

8. To see lots of happy, sweaty participants riding the subway home in the afternoon

After I watched the marathon for a while, I went out to dinner and drinks with some friends. On the train back, I saw several participants (with their signature medals and entry number plastered to their shirt). As soon as one of them entered the train, people stood up and gave them their seat saying “Good job!” or “ Congratulations.”

Hanging out on the sidelines of the 2013 Tokyo Marathon

Hanging out on the sidelines of the 2013 Tokyo Marathon

Talk about respect.

I love Japan.

In any case, this is my forecast for Tokyo Marathon 2014. I hope you get a chance to go. If so, I will be one of the thousands of over-excited people on the sidelines, snapping pictures of participants in costumes.

Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele


4 responses to “Tokyo Marathon 2014: What to expect

  1. Hello, enjoyed your post. On a side note, we will be in Tokyo for about 2 days this June. It will be our 2nd time going there, any suggestions which places we should prioritize? We have only been to Tokyo Disney Sea. Cheers!

    • Hi Jean,

      Thanks for the message.
      If you’re going to be in Tokyo, I always recommend using the Meetrip service (, which basically pairing travelers with locals who give them “unofficial” tours of the city. It’s really cheap and great for travelers.
      If guides aren’t your thing, I recommend walking around Asakusa (famous temple, rickshaw carts, great photo opportunities) or Akihabara (the “geeky” side of Tokyo). It kind of just depends on what you like.

      PS – in June, Tokyo is miserably hot and humid.

      • Thanks Grace. Appreciate your recommendations and will take of these while planning for our short trip. Yikes, I hope it doesn’t rain. Though better for us since we won’t have any luggage allowance so summer clothes will be light.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s