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.

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