Tokyo Marathon 2018

After five long years of patiently waiting and four disappointing unsuccessful ballot results since 2013, my dream of running at Tokyo Marathon and a visit to Japan have finally come true in 2018 at 5th attempt! You can’t imagine how excited, how anxious, how eager, how happy I was ever since the ballot result was out on September 25, 2017. 😀

Even though it has been three (3) weeks since Tokyo Marathon 2018 held on February 25, 2018, I can still vividly visualise the whole marvellous experience. The adrenaline rush of Tokyo Marathon 2018 is still running high in my blood even after three weeks! haha!

I must say that I was so overjoyed by the whole Tokyo Marathon 2018 and Japan experience! After running thirty two (32) full / ultra marathons in seven (7) countries, namely Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Myanmar and the latest being Japan, I have finally come to conclusion that Tokyo Marathon 2018 is simply my best marathon experience ever thus far! And I would like to even boldly say that Tokyo Marathon is the best marathon in Asia.

Every single procedure and every single detail were executed to perfection in the most efficient manner! With the warmth, friendliness, humility, courtesy of Japanese, the strong personal human touch of the Japanese during the whole Tokyo Marathon 2018 experience touched my heart in so many ways! I was just humbled by the whole experience!


I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my awesome Tokyo Marathon 2018 race experience to inspire you to run there one day yourself if you haven’t had an opportunity to do so. Don’t just experience Tokyo Marathon through my experience! You go and experience it yourself! 🙂 You won’t regret it! Tokyo Marathon shall be a bucket list for every single runner!

I also hope that my sharing here will serve as a quick runner’s guide, especially for overseas runners to run in your future Tokyo Marathon.

Below is what I will be covering in this long article:

Everything you need to know about Tokyo Marathon based on my personal experience.

  1. Registration
  2. Ballot result and full payment
  3. Travel and accommodation plan
  4. Safe and secure system registration with participant verification code
  5. Winter running gear preparation
  6. Arrival at Tokyo
  7. Tokyo Marathon mobile and web app services for participants and spectators
  8. Race entry pack collection procedure (security wrist band, face ID photo, etc)
  9. Expo
  10. Pre-race day preparation
  11. Race day morning
  12. Arrival at start line entrance gate
  13. Security wristband check, baggage check and security check
  14. Baggage bag check-in
  15. Line up at designated start block
  16. The race (race course, aid stations, crowds, distance markers, toilets, medical, cutoff checkpoints, etc)
  17. Finish line at Tokyo Station
  18. Receive runner service 
  19. Baggage bag collection
  20. Searchable Results
  21. Certificate
  22. Closing thoughts

Okay, let’s rewind back time and start the whole Tokyo Marathon 2018 journey together…. I’ve included as many photos as possible to get you excited about your own running experience at Tokyo Marathon 2019, Tokyo Marathon 2020, Tokyo Marathon 2021…. 😀😍

1. Registration

Tokyo Marathon is usually open for registration on the first day of August every year.  Make sure you mark your calendar for it.

I registered for Tokyo Marathon 2018 Registration on August 1, 2017. It was a process I was rather familiar with since it was my fifth time (fifth year) registering it. lol!

2. Ballot result and full payment

After registration, you just need to pray hard for it. I mean to pray really really really hard for it, ok? 😏 Why so? It’s because the chance of being selected during the balloting process is only around 10%.  What? Only 10%? Yes, my dear! Only 10%! And I believe the chances of being selected are getting slimmer and slimmer with more and more runners eagerly wanting to run at Tokyo Marathon.

For Tokyo Marathon 2018, the full marathon was capped at 35,500 runners. I don’t have the exact figure but based on my previous years’ unsuccessful ballots, I’d think at least 140,000 runners  registered for Tokyo Marathon 2018 trying their luck.

After praying and trying for 5 years, I was so excited to finally receive the good news 3 days after I turned fifty (50) on September 25, 2017. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I read it few times to finally believe that I would be going to Tokyo finally! I quickly made payment of around RM500. It was the most expensive race registration fee ever for me. But now looking back at the whole Tokyo Marathon 2018 experience, it was worth every single cent!

You can see my journey to Tokyo Marathon 2018 in more details via previous article: Tokyo Marathon 2018, finally here I come!

3. Travel and Accommodation Plan

Here is the dilemma! To book air ticket and hotel accommodation first in anticipation of increased airfare or to wait for the ballot result first? Some runners choose to book the air ticket first. In case they are unsuccessful in the balloting to run at Tokyo Marathon, they will also register for another full marathon in Japan – one week before or one week after. This is to ensure that there is a backup full marathon to run in Japan! haha! Welcome to runners’ world! That’s what runners are! I’m also a crazy runner I guess. I delayed my trip to Japan for five years just because of Tokyo Marathon! Welcome to runners’ world! lol!

In my case, I booked air ticket only upon successful ballot result. After doing some research on Air Asia (AA), Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airlines (ANA). ANA offered the cheapest airfare for the travel period of 8 days 7 nights.

As for accommodation, originally I was to stay at my Japanese god brother’s apartment. But I didn’t want to trouble the family. Finally my friend helped me to book a studio apartment with 1 king size bed and 1 single bed, a kitchen, washing machine, and toilet about 1km walk from the start line. We managed to book the place for less than RM300 per night. It was really value for money!

My advice to you for your Tokyo Marathon? Stay close to start venue near Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Shinjuku area. You don’t need to rush on race day morning and can take a casual warm-up walk or jog to the start line with the cold weather.

4. Safe & Secure System Registration with Participant Verification Code – “The World’s Safest and Most Secure Marathon”

A few days before your Tokyo trip, make sure you check your email for any latest updates on Tokyo Marathon.

In response to the implementation of new course for Tokyo Marathon 2018, I received an email from the organiser Tokyo Marathon Foundation. They have been striving to make the event “the world’s safest and most secure marathon” by implementing a new security measure called Safe and Secure System.  This system allows runner and emergency contact person receive emergency notification before and on the race day. So I quickly updated my necessary information online to support Tokyo Marathon to become the world’s safest and most secure marathon!

I also printed out Participant Verification Code for race entry pack collection (REPC) before my travel.

Print this out or have it on your smart phone and bring along with you for race kit collection.

5. Winter Running Gear Preparation

This bugs most runners from hot tropical country who have not run in a winter country before. It bugged me a lot too! haha! 😀 Even though I ran in Taiwan and Hong Kong before, the weather then was around 9 to 12 degree Celsius. But during Tokyo Marathon 2018, it would be around 3 to 7 degree Celsius. 

What to wear?

Should I wear compression tight? Should I wear a sleeve warmer? Should I wear glove? Should I wear 2-3 layers of running tees with sleeves? Should I wear running singlet without sleeves? Should I  wear a title compression outfit? And how about while waiting at start line under the cold weather with probably chill win blowing at me?

After listening to some advice from runner friends who ran at past Tokyo Marathon, I decided to run light! I decided to wear a running tee with sleeve, my usual running short, and a cap to run. I would also bring along a pair of sun glasses because the race would start at 9am in the morning until afternoon.

To keep me from the wind and cold, I bought a RM5 boncho from Daiso to keep me warm while waiting at start line. I intended to throw it away once I started running.  I also packed with me a pair of track pants to wear before and after the race. And of course, the winter jacket as well.

I believe that should be enough. But if you are really afraid of cold, you can consider sleeve warmer, extra layer of running tee, glove, or compression outfit.

6. Arrival at Tokyo

I would recommend you to arrive in Tokyo the latest by the Friday before the race day on Sunday. I’s even better if you can arrive on Thursday so that you can collect your race kit and visit the Expo on Friday to avoid the crowd on the last day (Saturday).

It was my first time flying to Japan, first time flying with All Nippon Airlines (ANA). I was so excited the whole journey. Everything was a totally new experience for me!

What made me even more excited was that my Japanese god brother and his family would be waiting for me at Narita Airport. I haven’t seen him since 1995 I believe. It would be my first time to meet his family too. Wow!

I was also very glad that I bumped into Malaysian runner friends at Narita airport and the train who were as excited as me for Tokyo Marathon 2018.

So here I was, in Tokyo Japan for the very first time with new things to experience! Welcome to Japan!! haha! 💗😀

Do your research to find the cheapest fare! I took All Nippon Airways (ANA) for the very first time! Awesome experience!
A warm welcome by my Japanese family at Narita Airport.
Malaysian runner friends in the train from Narita Airport. Total 102 Malaysian runners out of 34,510 ran at Tokyo Marathon 2018.

7. Tokyo Marathon Web and Mobile App Services for participants and spectators

Everything was digital at Tokyo Marathon 2018! I downloaded Tokyo Marathon App to my mobile phone for more information about the race and expo as well as my result.

My Japanese family used the Runner Update Service and Spectator Navigator on Race Day to find out where I was while waiting for me at KM24 and KM42.

Here are the features of the Tokyo Marathon web and mobile app services for participants and spectators:

  • Tokyo Marathon Week Map
    • Great for trying out the race course: This map is great for checking and trying out the race course, or taking a stroll for sightseeing.
  • Tokyo Marathon App
    • Use the app to check info on the Tokyo Marathon. The app mainly focuses on details on TOKYO MARATHON EXPO 2018
  • Runner Update Service on Race Day
    • By entering and searching your Number Card information or name from the Tokyo Marathon official website, you can check your 5km split time.
  • Spectator Navigator on Race Day
    • Check out where the runner you want to cheer for is at: A service which spectators can check where runners are expected to be at on a map.
  • Leaderboard on Race Day
    • Check who’s leading the race!  This service shows both the order in which runners of the leading pack passed each 5km and their time, enabling people to check the race’s situation in real time.

It’s advisable that you have data plan on your smartphone during your Japan trip. You could get the data plan at the airport, or the convenience stores or vending machine. For my case, I signed up for Celcom 7-Day 3-In-1 Pass for 3GB fast internet, unlimited calls in Japan and to Malaysia for 7 days at a reasonable RM138.

A must to download for runners!

It’s also advisable for you to download and print out 7MB Tokyo Marathon 2018 Handbook to bring along with you.

8.  Race Entry Pack Collection (REPC) / Race Kit Collection at Tokyo Big Sight

I went to collect my race kit at the magnificent Tokyo Big Sight on Saturday late morning (February 24). Since it was the last day of expo and race kit collection, the crowd was rather huge with long queue. Proxy registration was not permitted for security reason, that means all the 35,500 full marathon participants were required to be present physically to collect their own race kits. Unlike in Malaysia or some other countries whereby other runners or representatives could collect race kits on behalf. Some race kits and BIB could also be delivered to your homes. But not at Tokyo Marathon for security reason!

Even though the queue was long,  Tokyo Marathon Foundation managed to control the crowd very effectively and efficiently. Somehow in Japan, even though there was no line partition or officer on duty on every corner, somehow Japanese never cut queue!! I was beginning to appreciate Japanese culture more and more!

I love Tokyo Big Sight – such a marvellous building!
Look at the Tokyo Marathon 2018 participants queuing up! All queued in orderly fashion and the line moved very fast! Advisable to go collect your race kit during weekday (i.e. Thursday or Friday) instead of the last day Saturday.
Yay! Took a photo with the beautiful Tokyo Big Sight!
Yeah! The queue – and do take note that there was no line partition  yet all runners queued in a very proper manner with no cutting queue! Only in Japan! 🙂

I would like to share the four-step procedure in race kit collection at Tokyo Marathon 2018. It was so unique and eye opening for me for its tight security and safety. I was truly impressed by the whole process and procedure! So efficient and fast and really all details were well thought of and well executed!

4-Step Procedure in Race Kit Collection

8.1  Verifying ID and putting on Security Wristband

I went to the Overseas counter and presented my web confirmation on my smartphone with my Participant Verification Code and passport. The helpful staff at the counter could speak very god English with very courteous, polite smile.  She then verified my participant ID with my passport and then put the security wristband on my wrist. I wasn’t supposed to remove the security wristband until the race was over. Without the security wristband, I would not be allowed to enter into the race venue on race day!

Go to the Overseas Counter. The sign is very clear.
After verifying runner with passport, participant verification code, the staff will help to put on security wristband on your wrist. DO NOT REMOVE the security wristband before Tokyo Marathon is over. Otherwise you will NOT be allowed to enter the race venue on race day! It’s for security reason! I love this tight security feature!

8.2  Number Card Pick-Up

Next, I moved to pick up my BIB or number card set (race entry pack / race kit) and official baggage bag.

What’s in the race kit?

  • Running BIB and pin
  • Free 24-hour Metro pass on race day
  • Timing chip to be tied on shoe
  • Tokyo Marathon 2018 race venue information booklet for runners
  • Tokyo comprehensive map with tourist attractions
  • Official baggage bag for bag check-in on race day

The race kit is in such high quality. All printed materials are the highest quality. Yes, Quality is the word! I was truly impressed!

Running BIB (Number card), free 24-hour metro pass, timing chip, revenue info, etc are all collected at this point.
Here are all the items in high quality!

8.3  Timing Chip Check and Face Photo Registration

Now, this was where my jaws dropped and eyes popped out! This procedure was to verify Timing Chip with Security Wrist Band to ensure they matched. After that, even runner was required to have their face photo taken on the spot so that it could capture into the system matching the BIB number with the runner’s face!!!

Can you believe it? The security was so tight!

Security wrist band = BIB number = face picture!

I was truly in awe with the entire process!! Something I experienced for the first time in a running race! Truly eye opening!

This is something really new to me! Timing chip check and face photo registration!
After verifying your security wrist band and your name with passport, the official will then take a photo of you and capture in database. This way, your face is mapped to your running BIB number and your security wristband. Very airtight security indeed! Love it! By the way, the queue is very fast due to super efficient Japanese way of managing things! 🙂

8.4  T-Shirt Pick-Up

The last procedure was to pick up T-shirt and EXPO bag. No shirt size change was allowed. Thus, make sure you registered correctly your tee-shirt size during registration.

I love the ASICS’ Tokyo Marathon 2018 t-shirt! I love the ASICS’ Tokyo Marathon 2018 t-shirt! I love the ASICS’ Tokyo Marathon 2018 t-shirt!

Did I say I love the Tokyo Marathon 2018 t-shirt? haha!

It’s simple, elegant, meaningful and in high quality. I felt so proud of owning one!

Go straight to your t-shirt size that you have registered. No t-shirt size exchanged is allowed. Hence please make sure you registered the correct t-shirt size during registration.
Beautiful Tokyo Marathon 2018 – The Day We Unite – t-shirt! I love the simplicity, the quality of the shirt – by ASICS!

9. Tokyo Marathon 2018 Expo (3-day Expo)

Running community in Japan is really huge!! Running is really an important sports in Japan! The Tokyo Marathon Expo is not only for the 36,000 runners from all over Japan and around the world who go to run Tokyo Marathon, it’s also the largest running trade show in Japan for over 100,000 visitors annually. Visitors can try out the latest running gear, apparel and services of various exhibitors.

And look at the crowd – wow! It was packed with runners, supporters and sports enthusiasts! I didn’t expect the expo to be so huge. I wish I’d arrived at the Expo much earlier so that I could spend more time inside. So many things to see and so many things to buy! Please be prepared to buy something interesting here during the Tokyo Marathon Expo and do give yourself plenty of time to shop and try out latest gear too.

I ended up buying two pairs of Saucony shoes (Saucony Kinvara 9 and Saucony Fastwitch 8). I was supposed to buy one more pair of Saucony Kinvara 9 for my friend but they ran out of stock on this last day of Tokyo Marathon Expo. I also bought some official Tokyo Marathon 2018 key chains as souvenirs an gifts as well as Phiten products. Both Phiten and Saucony products are much cheaper than in Malaysia!

Therefore, I’d advise you to go to Tokyo Big Sight early. Even better, go on either Thursday or Friday (first and second day) so that you can avoid the crowd and also to ensure whatever you want to buy won’t run out of sizes or stocks like my case.

There are so many exhibitors, free samples, visitors at the Expo! Very exciting ! The largest running trade show in Japan!
Running a sub 3:45 hour full marathon is my dream. May be one day I can achieve it in future! haha! You can go  to the ASICS booth to print out the pacer timing wristband based on your own timing. I printed out mine! But I didn’t achieve it in Tokyo Marathon 2018! haha!
Running clinic – look at how vibrant the place is! Go and enjoy it!
Don’t ever forget to drop by Tokyo Marathon Official Shop. Many souvenirs that you can buy there for yourself or friends or over ones back home.
As you can see – the expo is very grand and packed with visitors! Go try out latest gear and buy things for yourself! Most things can be cheaper than Malaysia too! I bought Saucony shoes and Phiten tapes – all cheaper than if I were to buy in Malaysia!

10. Pre-Race Day Preparation

If you love Japanese food, you are in heaven in Tokyo! 😊 There are so many restaurants and cafes selling wonderful Japanese food for you to choose from. If you are budget conscious like me, you can always eat at small noodle shops with vending machine. The places I frequented the most for my food in Japan? Yeah, you guess it right! It’s the convenience stores: 7-Eleven, Lawson and Family Mart. The bento meal boxes available at convenience stores are fresh and appetising. I find that 7-Eleven provides the most variety of bento box choices. You can also get Japanese rice balls (Onigiri) easily at convenience stores. Another option would be Kitchen Origin ( available in quite a number of strategic locations. Kitchen Origin also sells bento meal boxes and rice balls. Additionally, you can pick and choose what dishes you want and create your own bento meal box. The price is also very reasonable.

For carbo loading on pre-race day, I had Japanese curry rice with chicken and vegetables in one of the restaurants at Shinjuku train station area around 6pm. On the way back to the apartment, I also packed Bento meal box for more carbo loading later in the evening and a Japanese rice ball for morning breakfast on race day.

You might say – wow! That was a lot of carbo loading! lol! But hey – I was on a holiday! And the Tokyo Marathon 2018 was also my running vacation being a first timer in Japan! So why should I control myself from the nice Japanese food? Besides, I intended not to consume any energy gels during Tokyo Marathon. Therefore, I had more reason to store up energy for race day! (haha! excuses for eating more hidden under the name of “carbo loading”!)

You can easily buy these bento meal box from seven-eleven, lawson, family mart or Kitchen Origin. I bought mine from Kitchen Origin. The Japanese rice ball Onigiri is a very good carbo loading as well as the morning breakfast on race day!
Japanese curry rice with lots of vegetables and Japanese rice for me as early dinner. You can find yours in many restaurants and cafes! Japanese don’t eat spicy food! So this is as spicy as it can get in Japan! haha!

I also used Google Maps to have a slow walk to the start venue in the evening. It was to ensure that I wouldn’t get lost walking to the race venue on race day itself! I also took the opportunity to survey the area to know exactly where the start gate and baggage drop area for me. By the way, all these information were clearly stated and printed on the running BIB.

Of course, next was for me to double check again on the weather forecast for race day, in case suddenly Tokyo snowed and dipped below zero degree celsius! I didn’t want to freeze my butt running! 😂 Good to know that the weather would be 3 to 7 degree celsius on race day! Cold and windy but at least no snow!

Oh – Tokyo Marathon Foundation also provided a baggage bag. It’s mandatory to use the official baggage bag. Make sure all your stuff can be put inside the bag.

Once everything was prepared, off I went to have a beautiful sleep. Once thing good about running at Tokyo Marathon – the race starts at 9 am. It gives plenty of time for runners to have rest the night before. Unlike in Malaysia or some other places with midnight run starting at 12 midnight or 1.30am or 4.30 am, sometimes runners couldn’t have enough sleep the night before. Understandable though due to the hot and humid weather in tropical country. The traffic is also another reason for early start of race! Where as for Tokyo Marathon, it would be a total road closure. Besides, Tokyo Marathon Foundation really encourages all the Japanese locals to turn up to show support to this great marathon! Organiser also wanted runners to see the beauty of Tokyo – the past, present and future as the runners run the streets of Tokyo! How considerate!!

Ok – it was time for me to sleep.

All packed – shoe, running shorts, raisins, timing chip, bib, etc. And whatever you bring with you, make sure they all fit into the official baggage bag (on the right of the picture).

11. Race Day Morning

I put on track pants (easier to remove later), newly bought running shoe Saucony Kinvara 9, glove, and a thick jacket over my running tee with sleeves and running shorts. With the cap and sun glasses, I was ready to go out there to embrace the cold weather! Oh yes, I packed raisins as well and one pack of energy gel as reserve. No intention to consume energy gel at all for the race but just in case I cramped! haha! Oh yes – how could I forget my iPhone8 to take some nice photos later?

What did I have for breakfast? Japanese rice ball, banana, a bun and a cup of Japanese warm coffee.

All set? Tokyo Marathon 2018 – here I came excitedly! Yay! I was gonna run Tokyo Marathon finally!

I left the apartment around 7.30am expecting to arrive at gate entrance around 8am, one hour before flag off time!

Yes – it’s cold! lol! So make sure you protect yourself from the cold well! A glass of warm water, hot coffee or hot tea before you go out to the cold might be helpful! I had my Japanese coffee before I stepped outside!
All set to go out to embrace the cold weather 3-7 degree celsius. 😀

12. Arrival at Start Line’s Entrance Gate (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building)

Do check your entrance gate stated on your running BIB! Based on your finishing time, runners are allocated to enter from different gate to control the crowd. Mine was Gate 5. And the signage was excellent! There were also many volunteers more than willing to assist you in case you couldn’t find it! All were super friendly, courteous and helpful with smiling faces.

It was a coincident that I bumped into an Indonesian runner Kristoforus whom I got to know during my 2-year working stint in Jakarta. I haven’t met him for more than 5 years and it was strange that we crossed path in Tokyo! It was also his first time being in Tokyo. Since we both started at same entrance gate, we then accompanied each other to the start line.

Oh yes – In order to go to the start line through entrance Gate 5, runners need to go through security wrist band check, baggage inspection and overall security check. So I started to remove my jacket and glove and put them inside my bag. I then put on the RM5 boncho I bought from Daiso.

And of course, some selfies too for memories! 🙂

Different participants will need to enter at different entrance gate based on your timing. Mine is Gate 5. Do check your running BIB as it does mention which entrance gate you shall go to!
I took a photo with my Indonesian friend whom I bumped into on the way to entrance gate! I didn’t  know that I could remove my jacket etc after the security check. I took it out and changed into my running gear with boncho before the security check. haha! I guess it’s easier too! Also for me to get used to the cold weather earlier!
Alright – I looked naked!! haha! What to expect from someone from tropical country with no proper winter running gear? lol!

13. Security Wristband Check, Baggage Inspection and Security Check

Tokyo Marathon 2018’s security was air tight! You could see police patrolling, hundreds if not thousands of volunteers and event workers on duty. The security check was like how you would experience at the airport immigration! haha!

No security wristband? Sorry my dear! You won’t be allowed to go in.

Trying to sabotage the system by wearing another runners’ security wristband to enter? Sorry my dear! You would fail the face recognition system!

Trying to wear your own security wrist band but another runner’s BIB to run? Sorry my dear! It won’t happen because both need to match in the system with the tight security!

And for baggage – no water bottle too! So please take note when you run your Tokyo Marathon in future.

Anyway, the security check was smooth and fast! Less than 5 min, we managed to clear the security. I have been so amazed by all the processes, procedures, plans that were implemented during Tokyo Marathon! So flawless! I was pretty sure more impressive things were ahead.

Yes- security check to verify your identify vis security wristband and what’s captured in the system, and also to check your bag, etc. It’s just like at the airport immigration! 🙂 First time I see such system in a marathon race! I love it because Tokyo Marathon Foundation puts security of runners as top priority!

14. Baggage Check-in

For this year, Tokyo Marathon 2018 started at Shinjuku’s Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building but finished at Tokyo Station. Hence, Tokyo Marathon 2018 had this efficient baggage check-in and transfer system that would allow runners to pick up their baggage at a different location in Tokyo Station area.

The number of your baggage drop area would be clearly stated on your running BIB! So need not worry! Just go look for your designated baggage drop area, ensure all things inside the official baggage bag, and pass it to the helpful staff there.  Mine was number 29. And I got it settled within 3 minutes! Super fast!

Look for Baggage Car No. It’s stated on your running BIB. mine is: Baggage Car no. 29-16. So I just need to walk to the baggage car to drop my bag there. Effective system and lots of staff on duty to help. All are super friendly and helpful too!

15. Line Up at Designated Start Block

You know – it really looked like the whole Tokyo major streets were closed for Tokyo Marathon 2018! We just followed the clear signs leading us to the Start Block.

Oh one thing I would like to highlight about the mobile toilets! I had to go pee before race! So I went to the mobile toilets. The area I went to had 5 mobile toilets for male! Guess how many lines queuing up? Five? Wrong! Only three lines! You might ask, “Why only three lines? Five is faster, right?” But somehow, I found this queuing system of 3 lines for 5 mobile toilets was super efficient and fast! And what impressed me even more was that all the mobile toilets came with no door!!! haha! That saved the door opening and closing time too! Smart thinking indeed! So much to learn from Tokyo Marathon even in terms of the organisation, logistics etc.

About 15 minutes before flag-off, we could hear music playing from high-quality sound speakers! Seriously, I told my Indonesian friend that it really sounded like in an orchestra hall with the high rise buildings around enhancing the sound system.

Japanese national anthem was also played. It was my first time really listening to the national anthem! The anthem was beautiful providing some seriousness to the Tokyo Marathon!

Some general workers also started to move into the crowd waiting for flag off to see who wanted to throw away the bonchos or rubbish. They wanted to ensure the streets are clean! So thoughtful!

I was totally excited! I was totally exhilarating! I was totally cold too with the cold wind and cold weather! haha! I shivered quite badly!! So I was eagerly waiting to start running so that my body could become warmer.

To go to Entrance Gate 5, we need to walk up these stair case. I just follow other runners! There are many volunteers on duty to help you to the start block. If you get lost, just ask! The official on duty (many of them) are all ever ready to help you.
Yes, the start block for my group (group E). I guess all these people are sub 4 hours and faster!! So many of them! scary! haha!
I love the wonderfully designed modern buildings at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building area in Shinjuku. Please enjoy the surrounding views as you wait for flag off!
I’m all set to run! haha! The moment it was flagged off, I removed my boncho already. you can do the same! Or you can wear boncho to run for few km until your body warms up. only then you remove it! Please make sure you don’t simply litter! Drop it off at proper designated area to keep Tokyo clean!

16. The Race

I stood rather far from the start line (about 5 minutes away) knowing there were many elite and fast runners at Tokyo Marathon 2018! In fact, some elite runners from Malaysia like Leo Tan, Muhaizar Mohammad and Nik Fakaruddin were all running Tokyo Marathon 2018 too.

I also spotted some pacers. With a cut-off time of 7 hours, the pacers at Tokyo Marathon 2018 were for:

  • 3:00 hours, 3:30 hours, 4:00 hours, 4:30 hours, 5:00 hours, 5:30 hours.

What? 3:00 hour pacers? Unheard of in my life! Even 3:30 hour pacers were hard to come by in any running races in tropical countries. I have run in 7 countries and 32 full / ultra marathons but this was my first time that I saw 3:00 hour pacers! This showed how fast Japanese really run!! They can really run at lightning speed!! So envy of their speed! 😝 It also made me realise how slow I am as a runner! In Malaysia running a sub-hour hour marathon is a great awesome time with the hot and humid weather. But in Japan, there are thousands of runners who can run sub-4hour full marathon. And I found out from the result later that there were more than 1,400 Japanese runners who finished Tokyo Marathon with a time less than 3 hours! Simply astonishing and jaw dropping!

As for me, I was contemplating whether I should try to run with a time of 4 hours 30 minutes giving me more time to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Tokyo and the ever cheering supporters along the course; or I should attempt to run another sub4-hour full marathon or I should attempt to achieve personal record dipping below 3:48. 

Then I decided on the spot that I should run by feel. Without the energy gels and relying mainly on raisins for fuel replenishment, I knew I might not be able to achieve PB. Also, I really wanted to enjoy the totally new Tokyo Marathon experience. I also wanted to be able to catch up and spot my Japanese family at KM24 and KM42. And if I had the opportunity, I also wanted to say high to the supporters along the route!

I just wanted to have fun and soak myself in this high-energy but highly-competitive Marathon Major – Tokyo Marathon 2018! And yes – I wanted to experience the warmth, hospitality, politeness, efficiency, courtesy of the Japanese to the fullest!!

Once I decided on my running strategy, I didn’t feel any nervousness already. I felt light and uplifting! My spirit was high! I knew this could probably be my one and only time to run Tokyo Marathon. I couldn’t even be certain if I would be successful in future balloting. Thus, I’d better treasure the whole Tokyo Marathon experience than just chasing after time! Also, this old horse here can no longer run fast! Time to slow down to enjoy life a bit more! haha! 👌👍😋

At 9.00 am sharp, we runners started to R O C K Tokyo!!! I quickly removed my white boncho and placed on road side before I took off with other runners!
Yay!!! Runners were gonna conquer the Tokyo streets now!
Surrounded by so many fast sub-four-hour runners. scary! haha! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

16.1 The race course

The Tokyo Marathon 2018 course is a new route. Starting from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the 42km course will lead runners to run through the past, present and future of Tokyo.

Runners will run passed Lidabashi, Kanda, Nihombashi, Asakusa Kaminari-Mon, Ryogoku. Monzen-nakacho, Ginza Takanawa, Hibiya and finally finish at Tokyo Station/Gyoko-dori Avenue. This course is certified by the JAAP and AIMS/IAAF. All the streets at the course were closed to traffic flow, assuring full safety for the runners! As for elevation, the highest is 40m from the start line. Literally it’s a flat and fast course for those gunning for personal records!

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole race course! Along the course, I got to see so many urban streets, nicely designed landmarks and beautiful building architectures in Tokyo. I would say I saw the majority landmarks of Tokyo in the stretch of 42km! haha! What a well-thought route!

Tokyo Marathon 2018 42km course map.
Tokyo Marathon 2018 is rather a flat, PB route. Many runners achieve their personal best times here. So you can achieve your personal record too yeah! Go for it! But please don’t forget to enjoy the whole Tokyo Marathon experience!
Was I cold? Yes, I was still feeling cold! 🙂 (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

16.2  Distance markers

Distance markers were made at halfway point and every kilometre up to the 42km point along the course. I noticed that all distance markers were very accurate with my Garmin viva active GPS watch. They were clearly displayed too for runners to spot along the route.

I looked at the distance markers quite a lot from KM20 onwards. I ran slower and closer to the supporters side so that I could spot my Japanese family who came to support me at KM24.

As I ran, I looked at the distance markers, from 20km to 21km to 22km to 23km. Then at KM24, I spotted my Japanese family!  Aki, his mother Reiko, his sister Ketsuko and his nephew Hiro were all there shouting my name, video taking my run! I was so happy seeing them, giving each and every one of them high-five! They made me feel so much at home running in Tokyo! Such a warm culture in Japan with awesome hospitality to foreigners! Later I found out that Aki and his family knew exactly where I was during the run because they constantly check on their mobile apps providing the real time runners status update!! Tokyo Marathon was truly a technology driven event!

Make sure you smile – there are so many professional photographers stationed at strategic locations! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

16.3  Toilets

There were clear signs directing to the toilet facilities along the course. There were even volunteers manning the toilet facilities to ensure the fast queue for runners. Runners could also go to Tokyo Metro toilets, Toei subway toilets and Seven-Eleven convenience stores toilets along the course.

I drank too much water before the race. Right about 5 km into the race, I already wanted to go for my pee in toilet!! haha! I had no choice but to follow the next Toilet sign for my quick release!! Good that I took the toilet break too. It allowed me to observe and witness the effectiveness of the event organisation – including the toilet management.

After the toilet break, I decided not to drink so much water along the route already in case I needed to go to toilet again!

We run passed the beautiful Tokyo Skytree in the background! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

16.4 Aid stations

There were 15 aid stations located along the course. Basically for every 3 km or so, there was an aid station. Below shows the lists of items available for runners at each aid station.

Can you see? Banana, bread, tomato, orange, salted plum, chocolate, sweet jellied adzuki-naan paste, Jelly, Salty candy and of course sports drinks and water. No wonder I was told beforehand that there would be lots of food to eat along the course! haha!

I didn’t manage to eat all. I love the sweet jellied adzuki-bean paste and jelly at KM22 Aid Station the most!! They provided me with the much needed energy boost!

Oh for those of you from tropical country like myself, I would advise not to drink so much water as how you would in your own country.

I drink about 1/4 to 1/2 cup at every aid station when running a full marathon in Malaysia because I sweat a lot under the hot and humid weather. But at Tokyo Marathon 2018 with the 3-7 degree celsius weather, I didn’t feel that I was sweating and I didn’t feel that I was very thirsty. But I knew that I was dehydrating without me knowing it due to the cold and windy condition. So I decided to still drink water. But instead of every 3 km, I drank at every 6 km. This is something runners from tropical country can adjust accordingly.

Oh I also consumed my packed raisins every 10 km or so. I didn’t want to rely on energy gel and I just wanted to enjoy the run as natural as possible! It knew it might have affected my finish time but it’s okay! I came for the Tokyo Marathon experience! If I could achieve better times, it would be bonus! Otherwise, I would accept any finish time as long as I enjoyed the whole running course!

Plenty of food and water for runners, every 3 km for the whole 42km course. Awesome!
Yay!! You can see- I was very happy – enjoying every moment of this lifetime experience! 😀 (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

16.5  Volunteers

It’s very thoughtful of Tokyo Marathon Foundation to have a wall with the names of volunteers at Tokyo Marathon 2018 Expo. For other races that I have joined, the “wall of fame” is usually with the names of runners – mostly full marathoners or ultra marathoners. It was my first time seeing the volunteers being recognised in a running event.

And yes, the volunteers at Tokyo Marathon 2018 rightly deserved the due recognition. You can see volunteers everywhere. They were all very polite, courteous, helpful, cheerful, supportive, encouraging. And they were all smiling whenever you talked to them! I could also sense a very strong national pride in them – wanting to give only the best to everyone at Tokyo Marathon 2018!

Thank you to all the volunteers for your sacrifices for us runners! Do say hi to them and give them an encouraging smile or a bow whenever you see them! And feel free to approach them for any help. Should they get stuck due to language difficulties, they will help you to find someone else who can be of service to you. 🙂 That’s the Japanese spirit!!

Salute to all volunteers for making Tokyo Marathon 2018 a great success! I’m so touched to see this wall of fame for all volunteers!! It’s simply amazing how much Tokyo Marathon Foundation focus on their people behind the scene who make this great Marathon Majors a success!!

16.6  Crowds

Before I came to run at Tokyo Marathon 2018, the full marathons that I enjoyed the most with thunderous crowds were Bali Marathon (Indonesia) and Tianzhong Rice Heaven Marathon (Taiwan). Standard Chartered KL Marathon came a distant third.

I was also told beforehand that there would be supporters, spectators and crowds for the whole 42km. I was rather doubtful to what other runner friends claimed! The whole 42km with supporters, spectators ad crowds? Impossible!!

Now that I ran the 42km at Tokyo Marathon 2018, I witnessed the impossible right before my very own eyes! It’s true that the crowds filled the whole 42km. I mean really filled the whole 42km – on both sides of the roads in fact! As far as I can recall, I didn’t spot a single area without supporters!

Some areas were filled with supporters from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong or some running clubs shouting loudly cheering for their friends!

They were not only cheering. They also offered food to runners who wanted to stop along the course for some quick energy replenishment.

To me, it seemed like the people of Tokyo all came out to cheer to 35,500 runners on the race day! It seemed like a city event to them. They held in as their pride to see the event a total success! It’s this national pride that made the event so successful with the full support from everyone – young and old!

My Japanese god brother’s family has been coming to Tokyo Marathon every year to cheer for runners for the last few years! I asked him why. He said that it’s their annual tradition to come and cheer for others. They want visitors to Japan to feel the warmth of Japanese. They want visitors to Japan to really enjoy the whole experience. They feel that it’s also their responsibility to ensure the event is a great success!

When explained to me, I was deeply touched! Such an awesome attitude of the Japanese! It really made me feel so small and still so much to learn about their great culture and attitude towards others and life!

For me, I ran rather close to the side walk for quite a distance especially during KM20-24. I knew my Japanese family was waiting for me there. And they really kept up to their promise and showed up there to lend their cheers and support to them. I could see their happiness and joy in their faces! I was deeply moved by their kindness indeed!

And yes – the 500 meter to finish line!!! You would be running through a smaller road before turning into the finish lint. On this stretch – the crowd cheering was thunderous! They were shouting and cheering so so loud that you could never give up!!! You just want to press on and on because of their cheer! I could see that they were all really cheering from their heart! The quiet Japanese? No more at this 500 meter to finish line!!! They just gave their best supporting and cheering the runners to give their best dashing to the finish line!!

I could never forget the supporters, the spectators, the cheering crowd!!

Look at all the supporters and crowds along the street! And mind you – it’s like this throughout the whole 42km. I never saw a single spot without crowds and supporters cheering the runners!! Such a festive atmosphere! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)
At KM40 with supporters and crowds on road side cheering on!! Bear in mind that this batch you see here are all sub 4 hour runners! So many of them!! haha! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

16.7 Performances & Songs

you might not have noticed it if you don’t pay much attention to the crowds on along the road side. At several important distance (i.e. KM20, KM30 etc) I saw some performances on the road side mainly to cheer the crowd and also to entertain the spectators. Songs were also played (YMCA, etc) loudly at designated area along the course to boost up runners’ energy! I remember I sang along too! haha! I wish I could dance along as well! 😀

16.8  Cut-off checkpoints

The course would close up to a particular cut-off checkpoint at designated times for traffic, security and operational reasons. Running would not be allowed after the checkpoint is closed. I noticed at at some designated cut-off checkpoints, there were digital clock showing the time and the cut-off time.  

With the cut off time of seven (7) hours, I believe many runners could achieve their dreams of completing this prestigious marathon major – Tokyo Marathon 2018!  Congrats to all finishers!

16.9  Medical stations

There were medical stations and medical offices located in the street area, and on the race course as well as in the finish line. Perhaps this medical facilities came as no surprise to many.

But one thing I wanted to highlight was that I also saw medical staff running full marathon with other runners! Yes, you heard it right! Medical staff wearing an outer layer jacket marked with the word “Medical Staff” running along with runners! With my sub 4hour pace that I was running at, I still could spot the medical staff on the run! That shows how fast they were! I’m pretty sure Tokyo Marathon Foundation ensured that the medical staff on the run had spread out amongst the runners. I salute to the organiser for this creative way of providing medical services!

One of these days I am going to dress up the the Japanese runners behind me!! 🙂 (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

16.10  Finish Support Runners

There were finish support runners too following the cut-off times to encourage and motivate runners to finish the marathon within seven cut off time. I find this to be very good as the finish support runners would help as many runners as possible to complete the exciting race!

16.11 Happy Running

As I have shared earlier, I applied the “run by feel” and “no energy gel” strategy. I wasn’t aiming for personal achievement too even though it would be nice if I could achieve PB. But that wasn’t my focus. Otherwise, I would have taken 6 packets of energy gels with me for my energy replenishment for a better chance at achieving PB.

I really wanted to enjoy the whole Tokyo Marathon experience, observing every single thing at Tokyo Marathon 2018 – not on the the run, but also the registration, the race kit collection, the system, the procedures, the crowds, the volunteers, the supporters etc. Since it’s a Marathon Major, I’m sure there will be so so much to learn from the best.

Honestly speaking, I felt quite a lot of pressure running at Tokyo Marathon 2018. You know why? Because many runners there ran really really really really really fast! I mean really really fast!!

Even at a sub 4-hour pace, I was surrounded by so many runners on my left, on my right, behind me, in front of me!! It was as crowded as the  sub 6-hour pace crowd at SCKLM probably. haha!  You need to run Tokyo Marathon to experience it yourself!

Yeah the weather was cold with the chilly wind blowing on and off. I was shivering at the start line but after I started running, I felt much better. I believe I ran a bit too fast at the average pace of 5:15 or so for the first 20km. I then slowed down a bit and ran along the spectators and supporters side trying to spot my Japanese family. They mentioned to me that they would wait for me at KM24 to support and cheer me on.

I almost broke into tears when I saw them there at KM24. The whole family! Four of them, waving, smiling, cheering, shouting my name! My oh my!! I didn’t even have that kind of family support back in Malaysia! They really touched my heart! If ever there is one thing for me to remember Tokyo Marathon 2018 by, beyond all the perfect execution, it would be the people and culture of Japanese, reflecting through my Japanese family for me!

After KM24, I slowly moved to the middle lane and continued to run. I didn’t eat much of the food offered by the crowd and spectators. I ate those provided at the Aid Station. I love the Jelly paste particularly at KM30! It’s super duper nice and delicious! It gave me a much needed move!

Unfortunately I started to feel a cramp on my leg around KM35 or so. I wanted to slow down and walk but I noticed most of them were still running fast! Then I decided to continue to run as much as I could with the cheers of the crowds along the course!

I also noticed the crowds became larger and larger as it became closer to the finish line! Then at the last 500m – I entered this smaller lane with all the supporters along the side giving high-five, cheering, shouting! Oh my!! What is it with you Japanese people? Why are you all so warm and friendly to us all runners? You are not running but I could feel you were as equally excited as us the runners!

I did my best to run towards the finish line!!

As you can see from my running photos shared on this article I was smiling in every single photo! Every single photo! Yes! I smiled because I was really happy! Really happy indeed!

I felt that it’s an honour to be able to run at Tokyo Marathon. And in Japan, I could feel that runners have lots of respect from everyone! That was such a wonderful feeling!

Beautiful streets of Tokyo! The full road closure for the entire Tokyo Marathon 42km course for the safety of runners! Kudos! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)
Yes- thumbs up to you Tokyo Marathon 2018! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)
I need to look like a winner in front of photographer, right? So happy that I managed to find my photos for memory! Thank you photographers! All photo credits of mine running go to you!! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)
Bouncing bouncing – happing bouncing my happy running feet! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)
Another shot with Tokyo Skytree. This is close to finish line at Tokyo Station area already. (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)
Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo – how I’m gonna miss you! (Photo credit: Tokyo Marathon 2018’s photographer)

17. Finish Line at Tokyo Station

Yay! I finally ran Tokyo Marathon after 5 long years of waiting! Finally,  I could tick it off from my running bucket list!

The finish area was so huge! We were directed to the “receive runner service area” according to our designated category! For me, I needed to go to “E”. It was also stated on the running BIB – first letter on the running BIB.

Finish line area. The moment you finish, you will be directed to designated area according the alphabet on your bib. Mine is E so I need to follow along. All signs are clearly indicated anyway.
Ok ok – a selfie to capture the finishing moment! haha!

18.  Receive Runner Service

18.1 Mineral Water

First up – all runners would receive congratulatory note from all the volunteers handing out mineral water to finishers.

The volunteers wil happily smilingly congratulating you as they pass you mineral water!! They are clapping hands for you too for a job well done!!

18.2  Tokyo Marathon 2018 Towel

It was so considerate of Tokyo Marathon Foundation. They know the weather was cold and runners needed to keep themselves warm after the run, especially with the baggage bag collection being rather far away (about 1 km for my case).

What touched me most was the the volunteers did not only pass us the beautiful towel. They actually wrapped the towel around our shoulder for us!  Such a personal touch from the volunteers! Thank you for keeping us warm!

High-quality awesome finisher towel – Tokyo Marathon 2018 finisher towel. The volunteers do not just pass you the towels, they actually place around your shoulder to wrap you up to keep you warm from the cold! And they also congratulate you! How could you not be touched by this very personal touch of the Japanese? I was holding back my tears seeing how genuine and caring the volunteers are!
well done to all the finishers!! This is how the Tokyo Marathon towel is wrapped around the finisher!
A selfie with the Tokyo Marathon towel! Thank you volunteers!

18.3  Finisher Medal

Finishers then would go and collect the beautiful, high-quality finisher medal. And look at the racks hanging the finisher medal. Everything seemed to be so well organised!

And this was the proud moment! The volunteers put the medal over our heads and again, they congratulated us!

I love the rack! First time for me to see it as well! The finisher medal is of high quality too! I feel so proud the moment they place the medal around my neck!! hehe! Finally I ran Tokyo Marathon 2018!
Proud moment with my Tokyo Marathon finisher medal! 🙂

18.4  Tokyo Marathon’s Original Insulated Boncho (Emergency Blanket)

Insulated boncho or emergency blanket – a very nice personal touch to block the wind for us. I was again touched by their smiling faces! And they wrapped it around our shoulder on top of the Tokyo Marathon tower! Oh so so sweet and touching! Really appreciate the effort and personal human touch!

Look at her – all smiling! She wraps around me over the Tokyo Marathon finisher towel to further keep me warm from the strong cold wind. Boy oh boy!! All single detail has been well thought of! I think this is the Japanese culture!! I don’t see it anywhere else so far!!
this is what the Tokyo Marathon insulated boncho looks like!
All wrapped up feeling the warmth of Japanese people!
haha! Another selfie – this time with the Tokyo Marathon finisher towel and boncho.

18.5  Food pack / goodie bag

We then received the food pack – with isotonic drink, banana and Calorie Mate – Balanced Food Block (energy replenishment tablets). And the plastic bag was also made of high quality!

Really love the packaging. A simple plastic bag can be made to be so elegant and nice! It shows how serious Tokyo Marathon Foundation is towards this marathon!
Yes- yes – I want the banana! haha!

19.  Baggage Bag Collection at Hibiya Park near Tokyo Station

For my group (E), our bags were transported from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building area at Start Line to Hibiya park near Tokyo Station.

We had to take quite. far walk to the park to collect our baggage bag. One western runner was so cold walking under the cold weather and strong wind that he was shivering. I tried my best to put my hands around his shoulder and rub his back as we walked together. I hope I did manage to offer a little human body heat for him. I was cold too! haha! But I guess my excitement managed to keep my body a little warmer than his.

After picking up the bag, I quickly put on my track pants and winter jacket. There was a shower area but I didn’t take shower. So cold yeah! And since it was a winter run, I actually sweated but the moment sweat left my body, it became dry! Hence, I didn’t feel any stickiness on my body as how I would feel after running a full marathon in Malaysia or other tropical countries under hot weather.

Oh by the way, there were professional photographer offering to take free photos for runners too at Hibiya Park. I also had my photo taken by them. haha!

Please follow the signs pointing to your baggage car no. Again, if you forget yours, don’t worry! just look at your running bib. It’s clearly stated there. or ask any of the friendly official staff. They can speak simple English and they can help direct you there!
Hibiya Park to the baggae car for baggage collection.

20. Searchable Results

There were two places you could get your searchable results: mobile app and web. Below is what mine looks like:

You can easily download this from the official Tokyo Marathon website
available at:
Available on the mobile app service
Please check the official Tokyo Marathon official book picked up during the Expo. Your name will be printed there!!

As you can see – my timing was that great! I didn’t manage to achieve my personal best. I only managed to finish in the net time of 3 hours 53 minutes. But I was in cloud 9. I was just overjoyed and happy that I finally ran Tokyo Marathon. It’s no longer an illusion or dream! It was a dream come true!

One thing I would like to get your attention is that there were 102 Malaysians at Tokyo Marathon 2018, including Leo Tan, Muhaizar Mohammad and Nik Fakaruddin. A big congratulation to them all for achieving their personal best! And Leo Tan’s time of 2:25:28 broke his previous year’s record of 2:28:19 set at Tokyo Marathon 2017. It was a new Malaysian record too!! Wow! Really happy for all of them! And for other Malaysian runners, well done to all, including Annie. Kelvin, Cayson and Simon (those I know of).

Another thing I would like to highlight is how fast Japanese runners run!! You see, with my sub 4-hour time, I could only place 7,156 out of 26,6ll full marathon runners.  I also understand that there were more than 1,400 Japanese runners who ran below three hours (sub 3).  Crazy! All Japanese are super fast!! Running is really a big thing and they take running really seriously!! How I wish I could run as much as them, run as fast as them one day! haha! But I know I could only dream about it! lol!

21. Certificate

I received my finisher certificate in my mailbox on 19 March 2018, 3+ weeks after Tokyo Marathon 2018’s completion. This is something you can look out for in your mailbox when you run Tokyo Marathon next.

This is how the certificate looks like! Do you also notice that the certificate contains a lot of information compared to other certificates that you might have received in other running races? This is like a one page summary of everything! I really love not only the design, but also the content as well! You will be proud of yourself for your achievement when you receive this certificate.

22. Closing Thoughts

It was the best 50th birthday present ever! I guess my second half of life finally begins at 50? lol!

I finally ran Tokyo Marathon 2018 after 5 years of waiting. I finally ticked it off my bucket list. And my dream finally came true.

Achieving a sub 4hour timing was a bonus!

Having my Japanese family cheering me on at KM24 and then waiting for me at finish line and then bringing me for lunch etc was a memorable, heart-warming experience! I couldn’t thank them enough for all they have done for me!!

Tokyo Marathon 2018 also opened my eyes to see what a world-class marathon looks like – from registration to race kit collection, to expo, to the race day and certificate. Everything was in high quality, executed perfectly in the most efficient manner putting security and safety measure for runners above everything else.

And how could I forget the warm hospitality of the Japanese! They humbled me! They have taught me what humility, courtesy, thoughtfulness, mindfulness, efficiency, helpfulness, hospitality really mean! They also taught me what national pride means!

“Tokyo Marathon 2018 – The Day We Unite” – how appropriately summed up the whole Tokyo Marathon 2018!

Yes, the day we unite! The day I saw all Japanese unite as if it was a national event. The day I saw all runners unite running towards own personal goals and having own running dreams come true. The day I saw me reunited with my Japanese family after close to 20 years of not seeing each other.

Tokyo Marathon – I will remember you as the Best Marathon I have ever run at!

Beautiful Tokyo Finisher Medal taken against the backdrop at Plum blossom at Hibiya Park, Tokyo, Japan.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so so much to my Japanese family! You made my whole Tokyo Marathon 2018 even more meaningful by waiting for me at KM24 and finish line as well as having lunch after the race. You have demonstrated to me how loving, caring and hospitable Japanese are! Thank you! And Thank Japan! and Thank all the Japanese people who made us runners feel so proud and honoured to be runners running at Tokyo Marathon!

For more information on Tokyo Marathon, please visit:  and like Tokyo Marathon Foundation’s Facebook page: 

Make sure you mark your calendar for registration in SEPTEMBER!

This Tokyo Marathon 2018 sharing is not so much about my own personal race experience. I would like to use it as a way to provide tips and guidance for those who plan to run Tokyo Marathon in future. If you have any questions pertaining Tokyo Marathon – in terms of your training preparation, what to wear, what to eat, where to go, etc. I’m more than happy to share with you as much as I know. Feel free to leave your comments below and I will answer you. Hopefully it will benefit as many runners as possible!

Go and Run Tokyo Marathon! You will never regret it! It shall be on your bucket list, ok? 🙂

Good luck and happy running! Do share your joy with me after your own Tokyo Marathon experience!

Tokyo Marathon 2018


    • Dear Ginloh, thank you for reading the Tokyo marathon writeup. Hope you too get to experience the joy and excitement of this FM one day. 👍👏😜 were you successful in the ballot with result just being released for Tokyo Marathon 2019?

      • Yes. Got my ticket yesterday 😃. Must be ‘smiling’ even in my sleep.

        Btw, do you still have the 2018 Tokyo Marathon runner guide (softcopy)?

        • Wow! You must be smiling in your sleep. Haha! So happy for you! Runner’s Guide: best to wait for the 2019 version. it will be available for download from its website. An email will be sent to you too when it is available. Enjoy !

  1. What a good sharing Vincent, so informative and detail. Thank you for the effort to share.
    I just had my lucky day to get the lottery for the 2019 race, and hope that I can learn from your tips 🙂

    • Dear Koditos. It is my great pleasure to share with other runners about Tokyo marathon. Wow! U r such a lucky person! All the best at Tokyo Marathon 2019 yeah! I’m sure you are going to have a blast!

  2. Hi Vincent,

    Loved reading your post. I ran my first ever full Marathon in 2018 in Tokyo and I had a great time. Imagine running first marathon that too Tokyo. That too via lottery. Unfortunately I did not get this time (for 2019). Wishing you all the best.

    John (from India)

    • Dear John, thanks for your encouragement. Wow! You ran Tokyo marathon 2018. I’m sure you had such a wonderful time there. So sorry to hear that you weren’t successful at the lottery for Tokyo marathon 2019. Never mind keep trying yeah. And look at the bright side, you have experienced it already and you are giving a chance for others to have same experience too next year. 👏😜👍 well, hope you get to go to Tokyo for the marathon and olympics in 2020. All the best

  3. What a wonderful story Vincent, thank you for sharing!
    I hope i can get as much fun experience as you for my upcoming 2019 Tokyo Marathon!

    • Dear Dwingga, congrats on your successful ballot for Tokyo Marathon 2019! You must be very excited. I’m sure you will have lots of fun there. And it will stay in your memory as a runner forever. All the rest to you and enjoy!

  4. Hi Vincent, thanks for your sharing. I was really lucky get the Tokyo Marathon 2019 in my ever first ballot. But nervous about running in Tokyo. Would really appreciate if you can advise whether I should book a hotel near to the starting line or finishing line as I was told finishing line is better as I would be too tired to back it back to my hotel later.

    • Dear Marie, wow! You are so so lucky! First trial and successful! Congrats! Whether to stay near start line or finish line is actually up to individual preference. They both are quite far apart as well. I personally prefer to stay close to start line so that I don’t need to wake up too early to catch the train to go to start line. I prefer to have the extra hour of sleep before the run. After the run, yes I am tried but by then the race is over and I can take my old sweet time for lunch and for the train ride back to hotel. Haha! So it is really up to you yeah! All the best!

  5. Hi Vincent,

    I read your article months ago and makes me interested for the race.
    Decided to give a try on the low possibility lottery system.
    But hell yeah, I got it even for the 1st try :):):)

    Now I start headache for my training, accommodation in Japan.
    What to be wear and so on.
    Anyhow, it was my 1st FM and in winter.
    Like others, I had been smiling in my sleep for pass few days :p

    Hope you share some guide on the training.
    Or, we may train together if you’re still doing 🙂


    • Hi Gary,
      Wow! You are such a lucky man! First try and you are successful! I’m sure you make many other runners jealous of you. Lol! Congrats once again yeah!
      Your first FM, so you are an FMV at Tokyo marathon 2019! That will make it even sweeter!
      Training.. I believe you can get many training programs from internet or other running friends. Since it is your first FM, probably clocking min 50km weekly mileage with one of it being an LSD (20km and above) is good. 2 weeks before the FM, try to run st least once 30km LSD. And the last week — just taper off.
      I’m sure you will complete your first FM in style. Just enjoy the experience to the max yeah!

  6. Thanks for the very detailed review. I can feel your excitement with every word. Tokyo Marathon 2019 will be my first marathon. I’m so excited!

    • Dear Cristina,
      You are another lucky runner! Wow! First FM is already Tokyo Marathon – a dream race for almost all runners in ASIA. 👏👌🏻😜 congrats once again and I’m sure you will do very well and enjoy every moment of it. Enjoy!

  7. Thank you for this detailed writeup about your Tokyo Marathon experience. It sounds like you really enjoyed the marathon experience. I got in by lottery for the Tokyo Marathon 2019 and really look forward to running this marathon. This will be my fourth World Marathon Major race (2017 Chicago, 2018 Boston, 2018 NYC). My goal is to run all six Abbott World Marathon Majors. I really enjoy Japanese culture and food as well (I have visited Japan 3 times before) so I am also looking forward to staying after the marathon for a week in Japan. My question is do you know what the cutoffs for the corrals are in terms of times? I just ran a PR (2:42) at the NYC marathon this past Sunday and I am wondering which corral I will be assigned to. I missed the “Run As One” Semi-Elite application period (which requires 2:21-2:45) so I probably cannot get in the Semi-Elite corral. Thanks for your help answering this question.

    • Wow! Andrew! You are an elite runner! Your PR 2:42 is so awesome 👏. It is a timing I could only dream of… congrats to you.
      I remember I was in the 4 hour corral if I’m not mistaken cos I remember all of this same batch ran very fast same pace as me and faster. I’m not sure if there are sub 3 corral or not. Probably you can drop an email to Tokyo marathon organiser to enquire. They are very respOnsive to address all runners questions. All the best to you bro! Another PR in Tokyo for you yeah!

      • Thanks again for this writeup. I am heading to Tokyo next week and just wanted to review everything you had written to see if there is anything missing. By the way, is there a packing list for Tokyo Marathon that you would recommend? I wrote the Marathon help desk but they cannot upgrade me to “A” corral with the semi-elite runners (2:21-2:45 qualifying time range). I am starting in the “B” Corral which I think has other sub-3 runners (one of my friends with a 2:44 PR recently last December, was 2:48 PR when he got into Tokyo through lottery, is also in “B” corral. Another friend with a 2:39 PR applied and got into “Run as One” semi-elite program is starting from the A corral) Regardless, I am really looking forward to this marathon and then enjoying a nice vacation in Japan afterwards.

  8. Dear Vincent,

    I came across your page here while doing research for my own Tokyo Marathon 2019 experience. It will be my first marathon and I am truly blessed to be given the opportunity to do it in Tokyo. I am from Indonesia. Thanks so very much for all the detail you share here; I am super excited to be experiencing it myself in a few weeks time. I really hope I will have as much fun as you did.

    Since this will be my first marathon, I really have no idea what to prepare. It’ll be a lot of ‘firsts’ for me; first marathon, first time in Tokyo, first time running in cold weather. At the moment I’m still wondering what to wear and how many layer of clothings I will need. I know it will be completely different from running in Indonesia (and Malaysia; I ran the 2XU Malaysia in September 2018)! I know I get cold very easily; not sure if I can run with only a jersey and shorts like you did haha.. I may need to layer up a bit more; with thermal and compression pants perhaps.

    And I’ve been wondering about the hydration stations; good to know they prepare everything for the runners. I won’t have to carry my own drinks. And also about the baggage drop; good to know that I can have my jacket after the race as I know I will need it immediately.

    Thanks so much. Believe me I’ll be coming back to your page just to read and read again to help me prepare.

    • Dear Josephine,
      Wow! You are such a lucky runner! First marathon, first time in Tokyo, first time running in cold weather!! I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy it! 🙂
      If you are afraid of cold, yes – you can layer up a bit more; with thermal and compression pants. Some use the thermal gloves too.
      Hydration stations – plenty of them. Since it is cold weather, you won’t get too thirsty too. So no need to carry your own drinks.
      Baggage drop – there is a walking distance from the finish line to the baggage drop, and also during start time – there is quite a wait too in the cold. If windy it will be even colder. 🙂 Just hide yourself amongst other runners and make sure you don’t catch any cold.
      If you are part of Indo Runners group, there are a few of them who ran at Tokyo Marathon before. You can also chat with them. I used to run with Indo Runners when I was based in Jakarta.

      All the best to you! Have lots of fun!!! Enjoy yeah!

  9. Hi Vincent, very detailed review; I think this helps so many, thanks for your hard work!

    I’m an American living in Japan and I will also be running the 2019 edition of the Tokyo Marathon, this was my first attempt at Tokyo’s ballot process, so I feel pretty lucky. I had heard that you secretly have a better opportunity of getting in if you select a t-shirt size of XS or 3L on your application; I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I picked 3L and got in…I’ll try it again next year and provide an update.

    While this is not my first FM, I am trying something for the first time this year…I’ll be running back-to-back FMs with only a two-week break! I’m running the Okinawa Marathon on February 17th (great race, I do this one every year), then turning right around and running Tokyo two weeks later on March 3rd…I hope I’m able to recover enough to perform well at both!

    For Josephine and others that are running…have you already made accommodations? Where will you be staying? I’ll be in Roppongi, so if anyone wants to meet up for a carb-load dinner before, or drinks after the race, please hit me up at

    Good luck to all runners…and thanks again for the review!

    • Dear C.J., Glad to know the detailed review helps. 🙂 Wow! You are so blessed – living in Japan and successful in your first ballot process – making runners like me jealous! lol! 🙂 About the odd T-shirt size with better opportunity – really? Wow! I didn’t know that! Not sure if it is true. I heard Okinawa Marathon is very nice as well. No wonder you run it every year. I must run Okinawa one of these days too. Back to back marathon (2-week break) – it’s rather challenging but Im sure you will fully recover. I have done back to back marathons too (2 consecutive weeks with no break). Hence if I can do it in under hot weather places like Malaysia, I am sure you can do it in nice weather Japan. 🙂 If you want, you can also reserve some energy for Okinawa and give all out at Tokyo marathon. 🙂 But I think 2 weeks break shall give you full recovery even if you go all out for both marathons. 🙂 Just have enough rest in between yeah. All the best to you and all! Enjoy Tokyo Marathon!

      • Vincent,

        You absolutely should do Okinawa, it’s a much smaller field (~12,000), but has so much crowd support! The race is a giant loop that takes you through a lot of towns and villages…EVERYONE comes out to support, many of them bring out pineapple, raw sugar, and salt (all Okinawan staples) and they are really supportive. You pass Katsuren Castle ruins which is a UNSECO World Herritage Site, and you also run through one of the American military bases which is pretty cool for many people.

        Last year they started allowing runners to camp in the park where the race starts and finishes, I live right next to it so I walked out there in the evening after the race and it was such a fun time with all the after-race parties!

        The race is in February which is a fairly cheap time for air travel, not sure where in Malayasia you are, but if you can make it to Singapore fairly easy, Jetstar now offers 4 non-stop flights per week to Okinawa, so it’s a fairly easy trip!

        • Dear C.J,
          Thanks so so much for your recommendation and tips to Okinawa Marathon in February. It looks like a marathon not to be missed! I will definitely keep in mind. I plan to run kyoto and Osaka marathon one of these days as well. Perhaps also Mount Fuji marathon. Thanks again for the recommendation.

  10. This was an AWESOME Race Review… I TOTALLY enjoyed reading it… At first site it looked like a lot to read but once I started I couldn’t stop until
    I was finished… This was soooo informative… Thank you… Thank you… Thank you… I’ll be running the 2019 Tokyo Marathon… I’ll be sure to post back to let you know how my experience was…. Not being nearly as fast as you gives me more time to enjoy the beautiful course. 😊

  11. Dear Erica, Thank you so much for your kind words. 🙂 Glad that you have found the sharing to be informative. Wow! Congrats on your successful ballot to run on mar 3, 2019! I am sure you so look forward to this wonderful experience! Take your time and just enjoy the run yeah… stop at the hydration stations to pick up something to eat.. say hi to the warm friendly Japanese supporters along the route and eat some of the things they offer for free; Watch out for street performances on road side especially at some major t junctions, etc…..Oh … and smile to the cameras! 🙂 have a blast, Erica! 🙂

  12. Dear Vincent ,
    Thank you a lot for your detailed report. My wife Vesna and myself will run Tokyo 2019 on March 3 and your information are very valuable and helped a lot to understand differences to other marathons we already finished : it should bee my 6 -Star World Marathon and hope t o finish it within the time.
    Best regards
    Davorin KOLIC

    • Dear Davorin,
      You are most welcome. Glad it is helpful for you and your wife Vesna. You both are so lucky to be successful in your ballot. Wishing you both all the best at Tokyo Mararhon 2019 and have a blast! You will finish will a smile on your face! 😜

  13. Dear Vincent,
    Thank you for sharing your awesome and inspiring running experience at Tokyo Marathon. Congrats on your great achievement. Your information and details really helpful.
    I and my friends wish to join next year Tokyo Marathon together; but I knew by the chance of balloting system to get us enter the run is very low. I have read they mentioned about charity registration. Do you have any advice about it? Are we entitled everything same as normal registration? I not a fast runner but I do enjoy running. I wish I can challenge myself and continue to pursue my running dreams, live and run with joyful heart. Hope to hear from you and thank you for reading my questions. Keep it up and God bless you.
    Best regards

  14. What a wonderful information, analysis and review, Kamsia Ah Hia for your detailed guidance, I think im the very lucky one to get the ballot for Tokyo Marathon 2020, it really put me into tear when im being “SELECTED” its like a dreams comes true. Will surely enjoy the race rather than hitting PB. Your “report” gives me a very good direction on how to run a lucky Tokyo Marathon. Happy running Bro

    • Hi Rhengie,
      Congratulations on your successful ballot for Tokyo Marathon 2020. So happy for you. I will be there too but as a supporter only on March 1.

      Thank you for finding the information to be useful for you to help you prepare for Tokyo Marathon. 😜

      All the best and most importantly – ENJOY!

      Best wishes,
      Vincent Khor

    • Dear Tajul,
      Thank you very much. Glad to know you find it comprehensive. 🙂 Just sharing my experience hope to help other first-time runners for Tokyo Marathon in future. 🙂 All the best to you at Tokyo Marathon 2020!

  15. I love you story. I got a ticket to run Tokyo Marathon 2020. and your story is the best story that I ever read for Tokyo Marathon experience.

    Thank you for best story ever 🙂

    • Sawadhee khrap B,
      Congratulations to you for your golden opportunity to run at Tokyo Marathon 2020. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience for you! Thank you so so much for your kind words on my Tokyo Marathon race experience sharing. Truly appreciate it. 🙂 You are so kind! Very happy to know that it’s helpful for your upcoming Tokyo Marathon 2020. All the best to you yeah!

  16. Hi Vincent. Reading your review, or should I say journey was amazing. Actually I might just teared up a bit together with you at km24, haha! I’m going to run at this year’s 2020 Tokyo Marathon too and glad that I came across your writing. Pray for us too and really excited to be there and experience it myself!


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