Part 3: Tokyo Marathon – Race Start

Sunday, 9 March 2014  |  Race Reports

Our hotel lobby was buzzing with activity by the time Ton, Lit, Angel and I came down from our rooms at 8:00AM on race day. Numerous runners from all over the world had booked at our hotel, Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, which was just across the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, one of Tokyo’s landmarks and the race start of Tokyo Marathon.  There was even an official Tokyo Marathon booth at our hotel lobby.

We met other Filipinos who were racing that day, wished them luck, and quickly headed for the race start.

– View of the assembly area from our hotel room over an hour before race start –

– Bumped into friends Ian Ocampo and Joan Tengco who were racing that day too –

Tokyo Marathon this year had 36,000 participants.  The entire road was filled with runners of all shapes and sizes busy prepping for the race.

– Obligatory shoe shot with my dearest friends in running –

– Gangstas from Manila! –

– Entering the assembly area –

– This was the scene when we finally entered the assembly area –

Most runners were shuffling to and fro heading to baggage deposit before the 8:30AM closing or to their different race starts.  Others were eating and others were warming up.   Most were waiting in long lines at the portalets.  We each deposited our baggage and lined up at the portalets while chatting and laughing away, something that, as I observed, the more timid and quiet Japanese don’t indulge in as much as we Pinoy runners like to do LOL.

– Here I am in line at the portalets. Don’t you think the lady behind me looks like an older version of our dear Tessa Prieto-Valdes? –

– It’s Bumblebee! –

Tokyo Marathon implemented a wave start to accommodate all the runners and avoid congestion.  The 4 of us had different wave starts. Due to the long wait at the portalets, by the time we joined the mass of runners heading towards our respective wave starts, we were caught by surprise when, just a row ahead of us, a marshal closed off the road.

We learned that we missed our wave and we, along with hundreds of other runners, would start the race at the back of the pack.  This could only mean one thing: we were in trouble.  Back of the pack of a major race meant that there would be heavy congestion for us.  Worse, weaving through a mass of runners would require extra effort and take more energy from us.  Later on, we learned that this also made for even longer lines at almost all the portalets we passed.

After a few more minutes of waiting in the cold and watching all the waves start before us, the cordon blocking us off was released and we were off.

– The last shot I took before our race began. We basically started our race AFTER all the other waves had started. –

We ran ahead with huge smiles on our faces as we made a left towards the starting line arc at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.  There was a Japanese choir singing quite dramatically and loose confetti scattered all over the roads from the single gun start.  Other major marathons will actually have separate gun starts for each wave for runners to feel the excitement and adrenaline of each start, but not this one.  There was no gun that went off for us nor an announcer marking our start.  We simply crossed the starting line, turned on our Garmins, and we were off.

Next: Part 4: Tokyo Marathon – The Race