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

Part 2: Tokyo Marathon – Eats & Run

Thursday, 6 March 2014  |  Race Reports

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The best way to tour a city is to run it.

For destination marathons, it’s almost tradition for my friends and I to run a short, easy run on Friday to get our bodies warmed up and to acclimatize while we discover the city on foot before the marathon, which is usually held on Sundays.


Ton, Lit and I set out from our hotel and just decided to run around the area.

– Group selfie before our little adventure –

– Aaah Tokyo! What a beautiful city –

– This area reminded me of Central Park in New York –

We were lucky enough to discover Shinjuku Cheo Park just a few kilometres from our hotel. It was a small park that was just a delight to run in.

– Snow! –

The starting area of the race was at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building just across our hotel.

– Ton and Lit running at the building –

– Lit right at the start area –

After our run, Ton and I tried our best to get our game face on so we could join the elite Athletes Conference at our hotel.


When we run, we must eat, too!  My favourite cuisine is Japanese, so you cannot even imagine how thrilled I was to be eating Japanese food 3x (or more) a day.  We set out in search of the best places to eat and willingly lined up just to enter them.  These are just a few of the restaurants we visited.

First stop: Ramen! We ordered ramen via vending machine, we filled up a form for our preferred taste, then we were led to single cubicles to eat! It was a different and super satisfying experience!

Ton, Mench, Gabby, and I fell in line—again—just to enter Tsunahachi Tempura at Shinjuku. They said this was one of the best places for Tempura. We were lucky enough to land ourselves a tatami table, too. The tempura was good, but not great.

After the marathon, we ate even more!  More on those later.


As always, I lay out all my gear the evening before the race. Cold races always require us to pack so much more equipment: additional layers of clothing, throwaway clothes, garbage bags to keep us warm, gloves (I wore 2!), bonnets, petroleum jelly to combat chapped lips, and more. I used my black Nike long sleeves top which I purchased years ago at Nike Campus in Oregon when I ran Hood to Coast. I wore it to all my major marathons: New York, CIM, Berlin, and London. (After Tokyo, my poor baby will retire! Sob sob!) I also used my favorite CW-X compression tights which I used at London. For the first time, I was using my Saucony Guide 6 for a marathon. A shoe that passed my long run tests with flying colours and I was willing to test for a 42k.

My major concern with this race was that they would not be providing Gatorade nor another sports drink with electrolytes and salt. As announced, the hydration sponsor was Amino Value, which I learned during the expo, contained amino acids. Good thing, Angel brought an entire bag of Gatorade Endurance Formula along, so I prepared sachets of Gatorade for me to carry, mix with water at stations, and drink at certain points during the race. I prepared 3 but, last minute, I decided to carry only 2. Huge mistake. Angel also gave me a pack of Gatorade chews.

Lit provided us with buffs to shield our faces from the cold as we run. Of course, we had to test these too. Yo from the gangstas from Manila!

With that, we all got an early night’s sleep for next day’s marathon.  It was going to be my 10th marathon.  I shut my eyes and tried my best to contain the excitement.

Next: Part 3: Tokyo Marathon – Race Start

Part 1: Tokyo Marathon – Race Expo

Wednesday, 5 March 2014  |  Race Reports

I had been dreaming of running Tokyo Marathon for the past few years.  The dream was planted by a friend who mentioned that Japanese hand out chocolates from start to finish of the race. (I know, I’m easy!)  Then, when Tokyo was included into the roster of World Marathon Majors just recently, it was a no brainer.  I signed up for the lottery and later found out I had been chosen!  It was fate!

So, I left for Tokyo last February 20, ran the marathon on the 23rd, did some marathon shopping on the 24th, and got back last February 25.  For the next few days, I had been practically glued to my bed uncertain if I was tired from the marathon or the marathon shopping-eating combination.

Thankfully, with the help of deep tissue massage and Bikram Yoga, I’ve been able to bounce back this week with renewed energy.  And so this begins my series of posts about Tokyo Marathon.  Sit back with some sushi and enjoy!


Brrrrrr. It was freezing cold when I, along with friends Ton and Lit accompanied by his wife and son, arrived in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon. After we checked into our hotel, Keio Plaza Hotel, which was a partner hotel of the race and was conveniently located across the starting line of the marathon, Ton, Lit and I wasted no time in heading out to the race expo to claim our race kit. Uh huh, we weren’t that excited.

The Tokyo Marathon race expo was located at Tokyo Big Sight, the venue for the finish line. It was a fantastic expo, comparable to the expo of other bigger marathons, like New York and London and much better than Berlin’s. Allow these photos to do the talking…

Entrance to the Expo

The requisite pose by the entrance before claiming my bib

Orderly, organized, and, most importantly, quick claiming of race kits

Big poster of the Tokyo Marathon course

And now we feel like we walk through the course

Tokyo Marathon is now part of the World Marathon Majors which include 5 other marathons: Berlin, London, New York, Chicago, and Boston. After Tokyo, I have two more to go!

Tokyo Marathon medals

Runners hang notes for the marathon

After claiming our race kits and having the chip tested, we entered the sponsors’ booths area to be welcomed by this view. My jaw dropped. I had never seen so many official race shirt choices before. (Later I learn that only 3 or 4 of those shirts were for women. Boo!)

They had official race towels, gloves, and caps too.

The official apparel and shoe sponsor of the race was Asics, but almost all major shoe brands were represented here. Conspicuously absent was Nike.

– We are marathoners! –

Limited Edition Tokyo Marathon Saucony shoes

And now for more shopping!

Only in Tokyo will you spot CW-X tights that are these colourful!

In case you tire while running, they had a BMW bike too LOL

NEXT: Part 2: Tokyo Marathon – Eats & Run

Photos: TBR ULAH Dream Marathon 2014

Wednesday, 5 March 2014  |  Race Reports

Who can get over the high of running their first marathon?  It’s been a little over two weeks since TBR ULAH Dream Marathon and most of our Batch 2014 runners are still on cloud 9!

As for me, I’m overwhelmed and grateful for the support of everyone who made the 5th TBR ULAH Dream Marathon a success.  While it started with Jim and I, the event only gets bigger and better with the help of an entire community.  In behalf of the Dream Team, thank you to our Dream Chasers especially team heads Bea, Gene, Botchoy, and Allan, our sponsors especially Unilab Active Health, Runrio, Nuvali, and New Balance (see our other sponsors below!), race marshals with lead marshal Coach Roel, TBRDM Alumni who helped support our runners, Pacers, and TBR friends and family who came!

Sharing with you photos from race day.  Photos are courtesy of our official photographers, Photo-Ops. If you would like to view more photos, visit the Photo-Ops Facebook page.

– Before gun start at 1:30 AM –

– Happiness! –

– TBR Alum Maricel Pangilinan and hubby Anthony drop by to share homemade Gatorade popsicles and to run with the runners –

– Sprint to the finish –

– A marriage proposal at the finish! Lyn got herself a medal…and a ring…that day! –

– Medals await the finishers –

– Daniel Matsunaga finishes his first marathon at TBR ULAH Dream Marathon –

– Father finishes his first marathon with his child –

– Couples finishing their first marathon hand-in-hand –

– Joanna Preysler-Francisco and Raul Francisco kiss at the finish. Both ran their 2nd TBR ULAH DM –

– Fangirl moment for me. Daniel and I have the same limited edition NYC Marathon New Balance shoes! –

– She’s one happy finisher! –

Official Results of TBR ULAH Dream Marathon 2014

Tuesday, 18 February 2014  |  Race Reports

Congratulations to all 676 finishers (updated) of TBR ULAH Dream Marathon Batch 2014 held last Sunday, February 16, 2014 at Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna! You are now MARATHONERS!

Below are the official results of TBR ULAH Dream Marathon 2014 provided to us by our Presenter, RunRio. Should you have any concerns, please email Macel at tbrdream(at) with the subject: Official Results.

I’m still trying to absorb everything that happened over the weekend and trying to put them into words while I await photos from our official photographers. Check here in a few days for an update!

DOWNLOAD PDF: The Bull Runner Dream Marathon 2014 Overall results (Updated: 2/20)

Note: “DQ” are runners who have been disqualified.  These runners’ bibs have been confirmed to be used by another runner.  As stated in the race rules, these runners will not be included in the official results.