Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tokyo Marathon - A review

As mentioned in previous posts, today I participated in the Tokyo Marathon, my 1st marathon in Asia and 8th overall. The atmosphere for today's run was unlike that I had ever experienced in any of my previous runs. The experience at yesterday's expo did not prepare my for what I was going to see today.

The day started off with me waking up at 5 to get an early breakfast at my hotel. There was only one other person in the cafe at the time by the name of Brian. He was also running the marathon that morning and we exchanged stories of different races we had run. He was from Taiwan and let me know about a couple of races to check out. After a brief chat, we went our separate ways to prepare for the run which was now about 3 hours away. I got into my gear and was out the door by 7:20. On my way to train that was going to take me to Shinjuku Station, where the starting line was, I passed a young fellow sitting in an alley barfing his guts out. Rough night I suppose, but since the trains stop running at around midnight here, I guess you have little option but to keep partying all night.

Once I got to Ikebukuro station, the station closest to my hotel I met another runner from Poland by the name of Boygan. We both noticed that there were very few runners on the subway that morning, as it is customary for public transportation to be full of runners on race morning. Once we got to Shinjuku station and got off the subway, we then realized that there were several lines that led to Shinjuku and human traffic greatly increased.  Walking to the starting line was absolute pandemonium as not only were we weaving through all the runners, but also through they're family members.

An idea of what we had to go through. The picture doesn't do it justice.
After dropping off my bag of clothes at my baggage truck, nature came calling. It was now about 8:25 and there were warnings on the PA system stating that if we weren't at our starting corral by 8:45, we would be denied entrance to our corral and would have to start the race from the very back of the crowd. Starting the race from the back of the crowd sucks so hard because that's where all the slower runners are, and when you have to pass some 20,000 runners that are slower than you, well, that's an uphill battle your never going to win. It was also at this time that nature came calling, so I decide to head to one of the port-o-johns. When I got there though the lines were absolutely insane, like 50 people deep. Fearing that I would miss the 8:45 cut off, I decided to hold it.

Once I got to my corral I noticed that this run would be unlike any run I had experienced before. There were so many runners in costumes that you could easily have thrown a halloween party after the run. In my corral alone, there was a guy wearing a 20 pound plastic box dressed as a bottle of whiskey, a guy dressed as the Tokyo tower, two Hello Kitty Ninjas, and characters from the cartoon Anpanman. Along the way I also saw some pokemon, Peter Pan, Super Saiyan Goku from Dragon Ball Z, Snow White, Santa Claus and a dude who I guess was late for work because he was in a full suit and carrying a briefcase. I also passed a guy at the 4km mark who was juggling. I wish I was carrying a camera with me to capture all the insanity.

A 40 year old man dressed like this.
As I type this, I realize it's getting late and I won't be able to complete my thoughts on the marathon at this time. In my next post I will write about how the run itself went.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Tokyo Marathon - 12 hours away

As I sit in my hotel room digesting my pasta dinner and typing this blog entry, I look at my last post and believe that it has been almost a month since I wrote something. My training and preparation for the Tokyo Marathon has consumed a large amount of my time in the last month, but I'm here now and that's all that matters. In 12 hours, I will be at the start line with approximately 35,000 other runners to run 42 kms. Weather conditions say its going to be fairly cold (below 10 C) and cloudy. 

The day before a marathon is when I usually attend the Expo to pick up my bib for the race. At the Expo, there are numerous vendors selling products and offering free samples. The Miami Marathon in 2011 was probably my favorite Expo. There were many products available at great prices, good crowd control and I walked out with tons of free shit. Today's Expo in two words can be described as fucking crazy. The Expo was held at the Tokyo Big Sight, an enormous convention center. You could definitely feel and hear the excitement upon entering. I estimate that there was at least 4000 people at the convention center when I was there. While I'm no expert at these matters, it was insanely crowded.

The Big Sight

Entering the Big Sight

Nike, New Balance, Adidas and Asics all had their own booths to start with, each having a podium with guest speakers. When you have a guest speaker, there comes a crowd and with that crowd comes cameras. This is Japan after all (I can say this as I am part Japanese). Figuring that I did not want to add the the already ridiculous crowd control issues, I limited the number of pictures I took. Below are some of the pics that I did take. I would like to elaborate more on the Expo experience, but I have to get to sleep.

The Asics Stage 
That's one way to sell shoes. I think this was taken from one of Al Bundy's daydreams.

This is not practical.

Nike still makes the coolest stuff around. This the the Japan Exclusive LunarGlide 3.

Left: Official Tokyo Marathon Entrant Shirt
Right: Nike Run TYO shirt