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The first Marathon Major of the year, and newest of the Abbott 6 Star Marathon Majors; the Tokyo Marathon has seen a boom in popularity, since its inception in 2007. It has now become one of the most sought after marathon races in the world. Runners travel from over 100 countries to take part and there are only a very limited number of RUN as ONE (good for age) entries available for qualified athletes, so getting into Asia’s only 6 Star Marathon can be a tough ask! But, with guaranteed entry and hotel packages, that’s where Sports Tours International come in!
We spoke to one of our runners, Andy, about his experience in Tokyo 2020. And why he can’t wait to go back, and run, in 2021. Here’s what he had to say…
“I never envisaged that turning the original five majors, which I completed in 2014, into an Abbots Six Star finishers medal could be so difficult. The Tokyo Marathon has proved to be very elusive.
I had fully trained for it twice previously. Once thwarted by serious illness, and then by personal tragedy only weeks before. I was determined to make 2020 the year I finally got the monkey off my back. Another winter full of endless miles and we were all set to go
One week before the flight to Japan, I was sat in my hotel room in Barcelona, having just completed the half marathon there as a final warm down, when I heard from a guy from our running club who was at the Kenyan training camp.
He advised me that Tokyo was now only going to be run by elite runners. So, that ended my third attempt to make the start line. This was then confirmed by Sports Tours, and decisions had to be made. Well there was no decision really and I headed out to Tokyo with my two sons
We managed a long run around a local park on marathon day, but spent most of the time taking in the sights of one of the worlds most amazing cities. It’s a place like no other, with some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. Team Lab Borderless, the Robot Restaurant, Shibuya Crossing and riding a bullet train were my particular highlights!
Time to give up ? Not a chance! Next year, as well as seeing the start line, I intend to get to the finish line, supported by my eldest son and daughter, and the team at Sports Tours who will help to make this possible.
I’m so glad I choose to go this year, and really excited already about the prospect of returning next October.
Running has been immensely popular in Japan for years (it is the country’s number 2 sport, coming in behind baseball). In fact, prior to the establishment of the Tokyo Marathon, there were two marathon races held in the city the Tokyo International Marathon, which took place on even years, and the Tokyo – New York Friendship International Marathon which was held on the odd years.
The most popular race in Japan is the Hakone ekiden. This relay race, between universities in the Kanto region of Japan, is a two-day event that covers some 165 miles, and watched on television by almost a third of the Japanese population; making it one of the most followed foot races in the world!
In Japan, the long distance runner is a mega star. Most big companies have their own team to represent them at the big races, and the longer the race the better.
“A race that lasts four or five hours, or two days even, with television cameras on the runners the whole time, with the company logo . . . it’s good advertising.”
So, when you visit Tokyo, you are visiting a city with running at its heart.
In Japan it is less about the loneliness of the long distance runner, and all about the power of running to unify. The running culture is about coming together and a sense of Team Spirit, and that is something that Sports Tours International are passionate about.
Official tour partner for the biggest races on the planet