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Tokyo Marathon – FAQ

 

We get a lot of questions regarding the Tokyo Marathon so decided to put together a list of frequently asked questions, if you have a question not answered here or on our site, please comment below or message us on our Facebook page

* Fit Japan do not offer official information and the information provided is subject to change by the Tokyo Marathon Federation. Official information can be found on the Tokyo Marathon website

When does the Tokyo Marathon registration open?

  • Charity runner registration starts in July 1st to July 31st (or until sold out)
  • General lottery traditionally opens from August 1st until August 31st

What are the Tokyo Marathon qualifying times?

  • Tokyo marathon does not have pre-requisite qualifying times in order to participate. The marathon is open to all.

How does the Tokyo Marathon Ballot work?

  • Registration traditionally opens on August 1st until August 31st with notice of success or failure being emailed mid September.

What are my chances of getting a space in Tokyo Marathon?

  • Roughly 10/1 chance. As the marathon increases in popularity more hopefuls register for the event the chances can become even lower. The organisers have also adjusted the amount of available spaces in past years so it can vary from year to year.

What is the cut off time?

  • Participants have 7 hours to complete the Marathon

 

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Asics Meta Run

While attending the Tokyo Marathon expo this year I was browsing the always impressive and giant Asics store, I could not resist myself the urge to try on a pair of the brand spanking new Asics Meta Run ‘concept’ shoe. Like the idiot that I am, I didn’t first look at the price tag that would have otherwise turned me away before trying them out, but once you I had a pair on my feet I was compelled to make a purchase.

Not only did these shoes look understated and stylish, it felt as though they had been somehow magnetically fitted to my feet.

At a price of approximately $250 USD, this latest road running shoe from Asics sports a whole bunch of technology and product features, which I won’t go into here (you can read about that over at the Asics website). But I will say the density of the memory foam in the heel is one obvious feature that brings the comfort level up more than a few notches.

At the time of writing this post I have put around 100km of bitumen running into them and they are holding up like new and I have little doubt that these will be amongst the more highly durable shoes I have owned, at least hopefully I will get enough mileage from them to not feel scorched by the purchase price.

The bottom line is that despite the cost, I am so impressed with them that since I have had them it has been hard for me to cycle through the rest of my runners collection daily routine.

If you have the budget, I cannot imagine you would regret owning a pair.

 

 

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Runtrip

 

“Surfers go on surf-trips to catch good waves, runners go on run-trips to find good courses.”   

This is the phrase written on the top page at a website called “Runtrip

 

I came across this website from a Google search as part of a task I was assigned a while ago, trying to find ways for us to collaborate with fitness communities within Japan. Without even imagining this website will basically build my running career at that time, I contacted Mr. Eiichiro Omori, founder of Runtrip. He himself is not only just a runner, but he has run the Hakone Ekiden (Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race) in his college years which is one of the most prominent university ekiden (relay marathon) races of the year held between Tokyo – Hakone on 2nd and 3rd of January, every year.

 

With Omori-san as CEO, Runtrip is a company running an SNS for runners where registered users (free of charge) can post and search for running courses all over Japan and even overseas. The posts include a brief explanation of the course, map, road type, elevation, amount of traffic lights, recommended time of day, street lights and running station information.

Instead of the conventional “Like” button in most SNS, they have unique “Ran” and “Want to run” buttons for the courses that are posted. Running events from casual group runs (some followed by drinks afterward) to serious time trials and races can also be found on the website as well.

Even with my short and not-so-experienced running career, the distance and level indication of the events and group runs make it easier for runners like myself to participate without hesitation and worrying if I can keep up or not. With this experience, I have learned not only to enjoy the run itself but also to make new friends and connections with people who share the same interest, which is another reason I look forward to when joining an event.

Runtrip often holds campaigns collaborating with companies like Fitbit, giving out Fitbit watches to winners to encourage runners to challenge more, and win mileage from ANA (All Nippon Airways) to “go on a Runtrip” to places away from home. My personal favorite is the “Run for Yu” campaign. “Yu (湯)” means hot water in Japanese, in other words, onsen (hot springs) and baths. Tying up with KNT travel agency, the campaign offers users to use onsen facilities as running stations with special offers at a discount price.

Unfortunately, the English version website is yet to be launched. But it is currently under process translating the contents and will be available in the near future. “Very soon” emphasizes Omori-san everytime we discuss the subject. Fit Japan will announce the news when the English version is live, in the meanwhile you Google Translation service does a reasonable job of translating the site.

Of course, if you have plans for traveling to Japan or an expat living here and looking for a group run to join, we would be happy to help you join a running event with the Runtrip team during your stay. Usually, at least one or two people are English speakers. Or, if you yourself would like to hold an event and get to know runners in Japan, feel free to let us know. Message us via the contact page, we’d love to help you organize it and enjoy the many wonderful running options available in Japan.

 

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A Trail Run in Kamakura

Kamakura is a seaside city located just south of Tokyo, in Kanagawa prefecture, that is not only well-known for its time-honored shrines and temples with the Great Buddha statue, but also for its variety of hiking courses, ranging from easy paths, that young children and elders can enjoy, to steep rocky trails that not even the locals know exist.

I recently participated in a trail/road run and hike group event held by a running & cycling station in the Minato-Mirai area, Yokohama (The Space –  http://thespace.jp). The event was held for trail running beginners and for experienced runners who would like to explore the deep Kamakura forest.

The event was guided by a local, who I seriously think knew the trails better than the squirrel we encountered. Going in and out of trails, sometimes on roads and hiking up the steep hills occasionally, this was a full day event starting from Kamakura station on the JR Yokosuka Line, with our final goal to watch the sunset at Inamuragasaki Park.

10:00 AM

Despite the snow the day before, both a perfect blue sky and the guide for the day greeted me at Kamakura station. Lockers were available right outside of the station gate to keep my belongings I wouldn’t be needing during the day. The condition of the trails and details of the course were explained, followed by self-introductions to the members – this might seem a bit awkward, but here in Japan, we’re all about being polite, so it’s conventional!

The course was meant to be 15km, and by saying “meant to be”, yes, there were a few unexpected impromptu arrangements as the day went on.

Anyway, off we go!

Starting from the historical Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, we entered the trail from the back of the shrine. Then going in from the back entrance of Kenchōji, I was fascinated by the multitude of Crow-Tengu statues that vigorously welcomed us. One interesting titbit the guide told us, there’s a Japanese soup dished called “Kenchin-jiru” which is cooked with root vegetables, tofu and shiitake mushrooms in clear kombu stock. It is said that the soup was named after Kenchōji when it was first made and eaten by Buddhist monks.

During the trails, there were a few parts where ropes and handrails (some untrustworthy) were fixed to help climbing up and down, but mainly it was a narrow trail road, just enough for one or two people to get by. The area is known for the seven “Kiridoshi,“ which are man-made passages through the rugged mountain. They were used for transportation and defense system for the “bakufu” (government), during the Kamakura era.

12:30 PM – Lunch time!
We stopped at a convenience store to have a quick bite. As introduced in our previous blog article (Cheap & Healthy Eating in Japan), it is super easy to eat clean in Japan. So, 100% fruit juice for recovery and carb-loading for the afternoon, but still keeping it healthy is no problem. This time of year (mid-February), having a cup of soup with the hot water service provided by the store or a ”niku-man” (Chinese steamed meat bun) straight out of the steamer is a great and delicious way to keep yourself warm.

 

Sidenote – Kamakura is a city with big shrines and temples, which means there are lots of cafes and yummy Japanese dessert shops. Good research, in advance, and course planning to visit them is an appetizing way to enjoy Kamakura.

 

After a quick lunch, resuming our run, the course lead us to more shrines such as the famous Zeniarai Benten Ugafuku Shrine, which worships the god of money, 銭洗い”zeni-arai” – literally meaning “coin washing”, it is said that when the money is washed with the shrine’s spring water, the amount will multiply. We also stopped by Sasuke Inari, one of the least visited, yet possibly the most breathtaking and photogenic shrine, honoring the Fox God.

At this point, I started doubting my Strava app having a glitch from the Shogun spirits being angry at us for wandering and running around their grave, but we had actually already run way more than it was planned (and we were still kilometers away from the sunset point).

To be honest, my running career is not that long. Running itself seemed and felt like torture just a while ago, but for the past 20km, the lush forest kept me so energized and the trivia our guide told us every now and then kept me intrigued (even for someone like me who never paid attention in history class).

I kept on forgetting the whole purpose of the event was to watch the sunset until the temperature suddenly dropped and bits of snow started to fall. Then, it was something that kept on bothering me until…

Around 5:00 PM

Running along the nostalgic Eno-den train tracks, we finally caught a glimpse of the ocean with the shimmering reflection of the sun getting ready for bed after a long day.

We made it just in time and luckily, the snow cloud that kept on following us (our own personal flurry is what Olaf would call it) was gone by then. I have seen the sun set from the same point in the past several times but this time was definitely my favorite by far after the 23km adventure.

If the entire west side of the scene was clear, we would have been able to see Mt. Fuji clearly, but, unfortunately, we could only see the skirt of the mountain this day. Maybe next time:)

5:30 PM

After taking in all the satisfaction of achieving our goal (and taking lots of pictures), it was time to go home. The group was divided into two; people running back or taking the Eno-den line back, either way to Kamakura station where we started off that morning. I chose to run but if you have never taken the Eno-den line, I am sure the mini journey from Inamuragasaki station to Kamakura station will be a memorable experience. The single-track train with just 4 cars (or 2 cars depending on the day and time) that goes through notable tourist spots will let you enjoy a retro time travel – a sight for sore eyes… and hopefully for sore legs too :)

 


Where you can eat Kenchin-jiru

A small Japanese restaurant, Kamakura Gozan (鎌倉五山) is located close to Kita-Kamakura station. The casual, but classic, Japanese style restaurant looks like time has stopped for a long time. The Kenchin-jiru they serve has a slightly different recipe from stated as the original but still a delightful warm dish especially in the wintertime. Reservations are not needed.

Address: 1435 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 247-0062

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Fuji-San Marathon

Fuji-san Marathon is held late in late Autumn (last Sunday in November) at the base of Mt.Fuji. The race loops two lakes, Lake Kawaguchi and Saiko Lake. The start and finishing point is in the town of Fuji-Kawaguchiko, where you will find incredible hospitality and a festival atmosphere on the weekend of the event. The whole town gets involved and along the course many of the local residents will come out to cheer you on or offer you treats to keep you going along your way.

As you can expect from a Japanese event, the marathon is organised very well and despite some early congestion on the course, this isn’t a race you need suffer anxiety about. With some steep climbs and undulations on the route, this isn’t a course to try for a PB, it’s a marathon to settle into and enjoy for the unique experience that it is.

 

For locals in Japan its an easy weekend trip from Tokyo by Shinkansen, for those coming internationally I would highly recommend booking a Ryokan in the town for the weekend and enjoying the traditional Japanese experience. If you do, book early, the township has limited capacity.

 

However you get to the race, be sure you make sure you leave time to visit an Onsen to relax yourself after the Marathon. With the cold weather and aching legs post race, relaxing in the hot volcanic waters after the race is about as enjoyable an experience as you can get!

 

2016 was my second time participating in the five events they have held, the number of participants have jumped significantly with a lot of international participants travelling to join the day.

With 2016 seeing them become accredited by AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) and Japan Association of Athletics Federations, it is not hard to imagine that in the coming years this will become an iconic event of Japan that will become so popular they will need to start capping the numbers.

While not as prestigious as Tokyo Marathon, this is a race worth planning the trip to Japan to participate in.

 

 

 

For all the official information including registration information they have well written english content on their website. http://fujisan-marathon.com/en_info

 

 

 

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Tokyo Marathon 2017 – Registration Information

This article is a summary of registration options for foreigners to Japan looking to enter the Tokyo Marathon 2017.

Tokyo Marathon

**** We have a Tokyo visitors guide book available, you can download your free copy at  https://www.fitjapan.com/tokyo-marathon/

1. General Entry is open from August 1st 2016

General Entry is drawn by lottery. There are 35,500 spaces and registration exceeds 300,000 ++ entrants to the lottery. You will need to be lucky to get a space, がんばって!

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter , we will remind you when it’s time to register!

2. Charity runner registration opened from July 2nd 2016

There are 3000 spaces reserved for charity runners and given out on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. If you absolutely certainly MUST run the Tokyo Marathon and don’t want to risk missing it, this is a great option and proceeds going to some great causes that you can select at the time of application.  You may raise the donations or simply donate yourself to the value of ¥100,000 (roughly $1000 USD).

More information about the types of charities and the charity registration page are found on the official Tokyo Marathon website here.

3. Overseas Booking Agencies – To be Announced in August

Many fitness focused ‘travelling agencies’ secure spaces and provide additional services (Airport transfers, Race Day transfers, Accommodation and excursions from Tokyo etc) for foreigners travelling to Japan at the agency specified cost. You may prefer this for some additional support for your trip to Tokyo. Two that I have personally used in the past are Travelling Fit (Australia) and Athletes Journey (Singapore). The complete list of agencies will be provided on the official Tokyo Marathon website.

4. RUN as ONE – TOKYO MARATHON 2017 from August 7th 2016

The “RUN as ONE – TOKYO MARATHON 2017” program is for any overseas runners from Japan who meet the semi-elite qualifying criteria and can apply through the page found at  http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/runner/run-as-one/


 

These are the primary options for gaining entry to Tokyo Marathon for foreigners, there is also the wheelchair marathon. If you are interested to learn more about this any other information be sure to head over to official Tokyo Marathon english website http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/

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A Foxy Trot at Fushimi-Inari Shrine

 

Among the 17 World Heritage Sites listed as highlights to any Kyoto visit, visitors will no doubt regard the Fushimi-Inari Shrine as a can’t-miss location

And yes, the track through the world famous Torii (sacred gates) of Fushimi Shrine, then up to the top of Mt. Inari is as an authentic Japanese visual experience as you can get and; as I found on my most recent trip to the site, it also offers a most interesting and invigorating place to stretch of the legs.

The Shrine trek is set up in a circuit that offers divergent paths to the loop at the top and if you head out early before the crowds provides a wonderful and very peaceful place to take in some morning cardio.

 

If the short loop isn’t enough for you of course you can loop back and go again or simply make your way down the charming Kamo river that provides wide and clear paths all the way back into Kyoto where you can find yourself breakfast and perhaps source an Onsen to visit to refresh yourself for the day ahead!

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Tokyo Marathon – Race Day Preparations

Tokyo Marathon 2016 is almost upon us and here at Fit Japan we have been busy preparing a guide book aimed to help first time runners of the Tokyo Marathon to plan and prepare for their Tokyo Marathon adventure. The blog post that follows is an extract of tips regarding food, hydration and clothing for the day.

Hydration

The hydration stations are well equipped; clean water is used and stations are frequently, and evenly, spaced throughout the course. You should note the restrictions regarding your own hydration, which can be confusing – I suggest just relying on the very well-equipped hydration stations.

Food

So far, as official stands go, there are plenty of food sources; you can expect bananas, buns, plums, and even tomatoes to be supplied along the race.

The crowd very often brings plenty of goodies to the sidelines and offers them freely to runners as they cheer you along (fighto!!!). Some have chocolates, some have plums, some have miso soup… Don’t be shy and be sure to say arigatou!

Of course, pack your favorite brand of fuel, but just be careful about travel restrictions on fluids.

Clothing

Poncho

Whatever you are wearing for the race itself, it is highly recommended that you pack a poncho for the start line as wind, rain or light snow is likely.

Throw Away Cottons

On top of that, some old warm clothing that you don’t mind disposing of will go a long way. You can quickly whip these extra layers off a few minutes before the gun fires and carefully toss them over the sidelines or hold onto them and drop them into a trash bag along the side of the course.

Of course, you can be a penguin, and huddle in the crowd and try to keep warm by jumping around, but trust us on this, you are much better off packing a pair of warm sweatpants and a cotton jumper to wear while waiting at the start line. When the cold wind rushes through the crowd, you will be thankful.

Gloves

I strongly recommend gloves for the entire race.

Beanie / Buff / Ear Warmers

This one is optional but something to keep your ears and head warm, especially at the start of the race, is worthwhile. Depending on the conditions of the day, you probably can wear this item for the whole race. Again, something you don’t mind tossing away is smarter if you don’t want to end up carrying it the entirety of the race.

Glasses

Transition sunglasses, they help with keeping rain and wind out of your eyes and the sun when it does shine can be quite bright.

Long Pants

If you don’t tolerate the cold well, consider compression pants for your legs and a long sleeve shirt or even two layers for your top.

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The Osaka Marathon

 

I write this post while bound for Tokyo sitting aboard the effortlessly swift ‘Nozomi Super Express’ Shinkansen at 320 kilometers per hour; I’m returning home from a magnificent weekend in Osaka after participating in the Osaka Marathon.

Fortunately for me I gained a lottery placement into the event which took place this weekend on Sunday Oct 25th, 2015, this year celebrating it’s 5th event.  With 30,000 slots this and with over 130,000 hopefuls these numbers are yet another indication of the depth of running culture in Japan. Not as oversubscribed as the Tokyo Marathon, but still a particularly strong interest for a Marathon ran in Japan’s second largest city.

Precisely organised, polite / well-prepared participants, fantastic crowd support and abundantly equipped aid stations. I have observed these elements to be a true hallmark for Japanese events. Osaka Marathon was by no means an exception. Of course I should also mention the entertainment. Japanese cheer squads, native drummers, Hawaiian dancers and quirky costumes both in the race and the crowd that provide a uniquely Japanese edge to the day.

The theme for the year was ‘making a rainbow together’ with a variety of colors you could select at registration, each of which has a unique charity donation (part of registration fee) associated with it. You also had the option to purchase a t-shirt or hat to run the event in and represent your color. As you can see from the photo’s they certainly achieved that goal as the field of runners were bright and vibrant!

The Osaka Marathon course provides runners with an excellent perspective of Osaka city. Starting at Osaka Castle in the cool morning sun, the course coils its way through the heart of Osaka city and in the last 10km or so the route unwinds into wider spaces out into the harbor area of Osaka to the Inpex convention center for the finishing line.

I wasn’t out to make a personal record so I really just focused on relaxing and enjoy the race, which Osaka certainly made easy for me! The bonus with not my pushing hard in the run is it allowed me to snap a number of photos along the way which I share with you here.

Okonomiyaki! Osaka Marathon Route

For post marathon entertainment Osaka has plenty to offer with Karaoke, fine dining or Izakaya, bars and café’s, but as there was an Octoberfest event happening it seemed only natural I’d go to enjoy a beer and bratwurst followed by dinner with a locally famous dish of Okonomiyaki!

I stayed at the Mitsui Garden Premier Osaka  which I highly recommend. While not right in the center of Osaka downtown, the hotel offers a Onsen bathing on the top floor which is exactly why I booked the hotel. A hot Onsen post race does wonders for muscle recovery.

 

Next year the Osaka Marathon is schedule for the 30th of October 2016, why not try your luck to get a spot in the lottery yourself? Ganbatte!

 

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Pictures from a run in beautiful Hakone.

A short post of pictures from my weekend running in beautiful Hakone.

Sekisho Hakone Town Tori Gate, Hakone. Views of lake Ashi Views of lake Ashi Cyclist Enjoying the Path. Winding green trails Bamboo pathway View of Lake Ashi Lake Ashi Hakone Onsen Half Marathon in Hakone.

With a last minute decision made to join a friend for a weekend in Hakone, I was happy to have discovered a very pleasant half marathon distance run half way around Lake Ashi . The run includes a reasonably steep climb at the halfway point and takes you to a peak of the Hakone Skyline which rewards you with magnificent views of the lake and surrounding mountains. I also rediscovered the sheer bliss of a soothing hot spring Onsen for post run recovery and relaxation!

If you are looking for an energizing weekend away from the buzz of Tokyo city, then I highly recommend Hakone as a destination for you to run free among the trails of the mountainside, to enjoy the cool country air, the relaxation of the hot spring Onsen baths and the to take in the spectacular countryside views.


Tips on Hakone

  • Hakone is a short 1hr trip on the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station or around 2hrs by regular rail on the Odakyu line
  • Consider staying in a Ryokan as I have done previously, many of which have their own private Onsen and not to mention the warm local hospitality provided
  • Stay a night or two and improve your chances to catch views of Mt.Fuji. Sadly this trip I did not as it was covered by clouds the whole time.

Tips for Onsen

  • When taking Onsen be sure to scrub yourself silly using the soap and showers provided before hopping into the hot tubs, it’s an important part of the culture to be pristinely clean
  • While they are separated male and female, be prepared for full nudity as swimming wear is not generally acceptable in the Onsen and the little towel provided doesn’t offer you much to cover up with!
  • You may be asked to cover up tattoos if using a public Onsen
  • Enjoy! Nothing beat’s hot Onsen for recovery after a long cool run in the mountains.

Tips for running in Hakone

  • I will be researching and returning to Hakone for more running, so this will become a separate post sometime in the future
  • Take a running backpack with hydration capacity for longer runs as you might want to head off the beaten path and need your own supply of hydration & food
  • Ensure you check the weather forecast and take warm gear as the mountains can get cold and change quickly despite the sun being out
  • It gets dark quickly, plan your timing and ensure you are safely done before night falls

 

Hakone, in Japan’s Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park west of Tokyo, is a mountainous region known for hot springs resorts and Mt. Fuji views. It also encompasses Hakone Jinja, a Shinto shrine with a red “torii” gate; Lake Ashi, which can be toured by boat; and the boiling sulphur springs of Owakudani valley, seen from the Hakone Ropeway cable car.

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Runners Station, Kojimachi.

Front Entrance Variety of clothing and supplements Common Area Garmin Watches for hire / sale. Shower Capsule Mens Locker Room #1 Mens Locker Room #2

Situated 500 meters from the Imperial Palace running track, you quickly get a sense the owners of Runners Station Kojimachi have thoughtfully crafted this environment with a genuine knowledge of what a runner’s needs are and that they share a passion for running as much as you do.

Runners Station Kojimachi offer a variety of services, with the core facility being the use of a locker and a clean shower + towel rental. This is priced at only ¥700.

Other services include the option to store running shoes (via monthly membership) to rent a garmin watch or running shoes and you can also purchase from a variety of running clothing and supplements they have available.

Coffee and Tea facilities are available in the communal area for ¥100 and there is free wifi available too!

They are located directly above Kojimachi Station on the Yurakucho line and easiest to access if you take Exit 4 and follow the stairs to the top.

Although I have yet to encounter an English speaking staff member this really is not a barrier. They have even created a handy PDF map and explanation in English to help us non Japanese enjoy the service and the route.

Runners station is a warm, welcoming and friendly environment that is dedicated to the service of runners wanting to enjoy the ever popular Imperial Palace running track and I recommend you try them out for yourself.


 

Hours of Service
Weekdays (Tue-Fri) 10:00 to 22:30 (21:00 last admission)
※ Monday Closed

Saturday 8:00 to 20:00 (18:30 last admission)
Sunday and holidays 8:00 to 18:00 (16:30 last admission)