2018 Tokyo Marathon: Learn About Japan's Biggest Road Race

From Shinjuku to Otemachi

From its start in Shinjuku to the finish line by Tokyo Station and Gyoko-dori Avenue, the streets of Tokyo were lined with more than 1.5 million spectators cheering on the runners in brisk weather on February 26. 

Compared to previous years, the 2018 course was relatively flat and conducive for those seeking PBs. Temperatures ranged from 3 to 9 degrees Celsius and the sun made nary an appearance. While cold for some, it surely made for ideal running conditions for others.

Throughout the course, runners were fueled by a total of 15 aid stations offering water, Pocari Sweat, and a smorgasbord of nutrition, including cherry tomatoes, bananas, and youkan (a thick, bean-based Japanese snack). 

start of Tokyo Marathon

...And They're Off!


Aid Stations

(15 total) 
5KM ::: S W
7KM ::: W
10KM ::: S W
12KM ::: W
15KM ::: S W
17KM ::: W F
20KM ::: S W
22KM ::: W F

25KM ::: S W
27KM ::: W F
30KM ::: S W
32KM ::: W F
35KM ::: S W
38KM ::: W F
40KM ::: S W
(S = sports drinks,
W = water, F = foods)


2018 Tokyo Marathon Checkpoints

Tokyo Metropolitan Government

5.6KM (3.5 mi)
By Iidabashi station

9.9KM (6.2 mi)
By Nihonbashi station

14.6KM (9.0 mi)
By Asakusa station

19.7KM (12.2 mi)
By Kayabacho station


25.7KM (15.9 mi)
By Higashi Nihonbashi station

30.1KM (18.7 mi)
By Ginza station

34.2KM (21.2 mi)
By Tamachi and Mita stations

39.8KM (24.7 mi)
Before Hibiya Park

Tokyo Station / Gyoko-Dori Ave

runners during Tokyo Marathon
runners during Tokyo Marathon
runners during Tokyo Marathon

The Finish Line: What Now?

runners crossing finish line


Ahh, the sweet taste of victory as you cross that finish line!

What do you do when you near the end? Among the Japanese, it’s common to take a brief moment to bow towards the finish line (after completing the run). It’s a sign of respect and gratitude for the powers that be for guiding them safely through the course. 

I Did That? I Did That. 

What was more of trickle of runners progressed into a steady stream after the 3 hour mark.  Glistening in sweat but with smiles of relief on their faces, most runners eagerly whipped out their phones (they were “mandatory” for runners, in case of emergency) to take a selfie or a groupie. Some grimaced as they hobbled around, others craned their necks to find friends, and many more continued to shuffle forward with a look of relief and hands on hips or atop their heads.
runners after Tokyo Marathon
runners after Tokyo Marathon

Post-Marathon: Pain versus Glory

runner with spectator
runners after Tokyo Marathon

As is common among the marathon majors, there is a long walk between the starting line and when you’re finally “freed”. From the finish line to repossessing your checked bag and the tail-end of the finisher’s area, you could easily cover 2KM – and then some as you travel back home or to your hotel!

I mean, you just ran 42KM, what’s walking another 2KM?

Before you become an icicle, you’ll wrap up in your crinkly space foil blanket, bow your head for a kind volunteer to award you your race bling-bling medal, then shuffle on to receive your finisher’s goodie bag filled with enough carbs for you to generate enough energy to single-handedly heat a 2LDK.

Samurai Sports staff at Tokyo Marathon
Tokyo Marathon volunteers
Tokyo Marathon volunteers
Tokyo Marathon aid station
runner giving interview

Like the arrivals lobby at Narita Airport, the finisher’s area was clamoring with anxious friends, families, and significant others. Apart from crossing the finish line, the moment of reunification is perhaps one of the most satisfying feelings of accomplishment – “It’s done, I did it.”

Around Hibiya Park, a huge array of free products and services awaited the weary souls and tired legs. Eager volunteers served runners with free accupuncture, while Asahi distributed their alcohol-free beer alongside the boxes of Kagome tomatoes. Tents housing ashi-yu to soak one’s feet in warm water also proved popular among runners. 

Whether you finished sub-3 or at 6-something, we commend each and every one of you who can say that you ran the 2018 Tokyo Marathon. We wish you the best of luck in your future running endeavors! 

As with any sports event, volunteers play an integral part in ensuring smooth event operations. Officially, 11,000 volunteers were involved with the 2018 Tokyo Marathon. Countless others volunteered their time to support the finisher’s area and make it a memorable experience for all.

Being a volunteer is admittedly not always easy and  pitching in your time and energy may not always be rewarding or fun, but we hope that those of you who regularly participate in sports events will consider giving back to the communities that have supported you.