Tokyo Marathon 2020: What You Want to Know
last updated January 28, 2020
Race Packet Collection
・Only runners registered for the Tokyo Marathon 2020 can enter the packet collection locations
・Packet collection is split in two locations (A and B); runners must collect their bib at their assigned location specified in the bib confirmation email
・Information about bibs and race packet collection will be sent in early February
・Entry to the expo will be prioritized to runners who have completed their packet pick-up
All Tokyo Marathon participants must be physically present to collect their race packet. Proxy race packet pick-up is not permitted for security reasons.
Yes, the Tokyo Marathon has an online store – go here.
However, the items available for purchase are very limited, everything is only in Japanese, and items can only be shipped to a domestic address in Japan.
February 27 (Thursday): 10:30AM – 8:00PM
February 28 (Friday): 10:30AM – 8:00PM
February 29 (Saturday): 10:30AM – 7:00PM
6 Chome-1-23 Toyosu, 江東区 Koto City, Tokyo
Shin-Toyosu Station (5 min walk)
Toyosu Station (12 min walk)
Shin-toyosu Brillia Running Stadium
6 Chome-4-２号 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo
Shin-Toyosu Station (5 min walk)
Toyosu Station (12 min walk)
The 2020 Tokyo Marathon is a unique opportunity to check out the latest running gear and apparel produced by sponsoring brands. Get there early to guarantee your choice of all the Tokyo Marathon apparel you (or your credit card) can handle. The expo is free of admission and takes place from February 27, 2020 to February 29, 2020.
This year’s expo will see some changes from previous year regarding entry, specifically:
Thursday, Feb 27 and Friday, Feb 28
・Runners who have collected their race packets are given priority entry
・General visitors are welcome
Saturday, Feb 29
・Only open to runners who have collected their race packets
・General visitors will be turned away
The 2020 expo is expected to be outdoors, as it was last year. Visitors should expect an open space with several tents.
Air ventilation and temperature is expected to vary greatly. Visitors should check the weather forecast beforehand and dress appropriately. This may include bringing rain gear and extra layers.
In short, the expo is open to the public and the race packet pick-up is only for registered runners. The entrance for race packets is closely monitored with limited access. Runners will receive their wristbands, have their photos taken, and receive their race packet, including race shirt. Foreign nationals must be processed through specific booths staffed by speakers of other languages.
The expo is typically divided into two areas. Sponsor exhibits and promotional displays make up one area – most items are not available for purchase. A second area consists almost entirely of Tokyo Marathon paraphernalia and sponsor goods. Towards the end of the expo on Saturday evening, runners (but not general visitors) can expect better bargains and slashed prices. Due to the limited space of the Tokyo Marathon 2020 expo, the arrangement and variety of goods may be limited.
February 27 (Thursday) & February 28 (Friday)
11:00AM – 9:00PM (visitors must enter before 8:30PM)
February 29 (Saturday)
11:00AM – 8:00PM (visitors must enter before 7:30PM)
Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market “Toyosu Market Block 6”
6 Chome−6−１ 108 Koto City, Toyosu, Tokyo
Shijo-Mae Station (about a min walk)
When should I arrive?
The Tokyo Marathon takes place on Sunday, March 1 (2020). Ideally, you would arrive on Thursday – giving you enough time to collect your race packet and browse the expo on Friday, thereby avoiding peak congestion on Saturday. It’s also entirely possible to arrive on Friday and pick up on Saturday.
Though not recommended, it’s not impossible to arrive on Saturday, grab your race packet, and settle in for dinner and a good night’s sleep. However, those flying from afar may need to consider how jetlag will affect performance.
Where should I stay?
Save yourself stress and sleep in just a little longer by staying close to the start venue. There are several hotels near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and in the general Shinjuku area. Hotels to consider include:
Hilton Tokyo (make sure it’s Hilton Tokyo, not Tokyo Bay or Tokyo Odaiba)
Keio Plaza Hotel
Keio Presso Inn
Rose Garden Hotel
Even if it is just the night before the race, staying near the race site means you won’t need to rush on the morning of your race! You should even be able to take a casual warm-up walk or brisk jog to your corral.
Before the Race
Corrals are assigned based on your reported finish time. No matter how fast one’s reported time is however, a general entry runner may only be in Block B at best. Block A is reserved only for Run as One – Tokyo Marathon Semi-Elite athletes.
To obtain a Block A bib, one must register through the semi-elite process, which implements a qualifying standard. Achieving the qualifying standard does not guarantee the entry into the event, but grants a less competitive field of entry. In recent years, not all qualifiers who submit an entry have been accepted due to field size restrictions.
Block A consists of JAAF-registered athletes and about 300 overseas semi-elite male and female runners who reside outside of Japan (regardless of nationality) and whom all meet the qualifying standard. Read more about running semi-elite here.
In 2019, corral placement looked like this:
Elite athletes, invited athletes, and wheelchair athletes
— start line —
Block A (Semi-Elite)
Block E, including 10KM
We can’t stress enough that you should be in your corral before the cut-off time for when corrals close. There is less than half an hour between the time corrals close and the marathon starts – plan wisely!
For the Tokyo Marathon 2019, runners not in his/her corral by 0845 were reassigned to start at the very back.
Tokyo Marathon 2019
Corrals open at 0800
Corrals close at 0845
Marathon starts at 0910
Race security is a priority for the Tokyo Marathon. Hence, all runners must wear their Tokyo Marathon wristbands which includes a chip with details of vital information, including a photo of yourself with your bib.
Before entering a corral, wristbands are scanned to ensure the face and bib match. Additional security measures include baggage inspection, metal detectors, and strict limitations on hydration units, including water bottles and nutrition.
Your entrance gate is printed on your bib. As a means of controlling congestion and limiting confusion, runners must enter their assigned corral via the appropriate entrance gate. Signage is aplenty and volunteers will happily assist those lost or confused.
That said, Shinjuku is a huge area where even the most seasoned of locals will get lost. If you have time, it’s a good idea to do a walk through to mentally map out how you’ll reach the race site and gate area before the day of the race.
Spectators will not feel an overt security presence on the course. Of course, some areas will be cordoned off and spectators are not permitted near the finish area.
In 2019, the Tokyo Marathon experienced temperatures ranging between 6 to 8 degrees Celsius or about 43 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Conditions were less than ideal as runners saw a persistent drizzle throughout the entire race combined with bitterly cold winds.
If not wet, conditions in Tokyo are always very dry in the winter. You can expect your lips to become chapped, unless you utilize precautionary measures.
You will spend a fair amount of time outside facing the elements before the start. Wear layers you don’t mind throwing away (don’t worry, these are donated to charitable causes) and bring a plastic poncho or foil blanket. You can purchase ponchos at Daiso (the 110 yen store), wear a large trash bag, or recycle items from a previous race.
No glass bottles, aluminium cans, metal Thermo bottles, or plastic PET bottles.
Bottom line – no water bottles.
They are very strict about this and will show no mercy in confiscating your bottles. Once confiscated, you will not be able to reclaim it.
One solution is to bring an empty hydration pack or handheld and hope that you’ll be able to fill it up once you are past security.
Exceptions are made for commercial spray cans which have not been opened, are 120mL or less, AND are clearly medical products or cosmetics, i.e. sunscreen.
Last year, security permitted runners to bring unopened gels and nutritional items, such as gu gels, Clif Bloks, etc. Of course, unopened sponsor items such as Calorie Mate jelly, Pocari Sweat jelly, and Body Mainte jelly are welcomed. Each individual item must be no more than 250ml for a combined total of 500ml or less.
Similarly, runners were permitted one unopened aerosol/spray items of 120ml or less, limited to either the Air Salon Pas (120ml or less) or Anessa Perfect UV Spray Aqua Booster.
Unopened commercial liquids in cartons and pouches are permitted provided they are 250mL (8oz) or less per container. Regardless of the number of containers, you must not exceed 500mL (16oz).
In other words, you are allowed bring unopened gels and nutritional items, such as Gu gels, Clif Bloks, etc. Of course, unopened sponsor items such as Calorie Mate jelly, Pocari Sweat jelly, and Body Mainte jelly are welcomed.
Sprays and spray cans are prohibited. Exceptions are made for commercial spray cans which have not been opened, are 120mL or less, AND are clearly medical products or cosmetics, i.e. sunscreen or pain-relieving sprays like Salon Pas.
In 2019, distance markers for every KM were available. Mile markers were available for the first mile and every 5 miles. If you are not accustomed to metric signage, you should consider practicing running in kilometers.
Bathrooms are plenty on the course. Throughout the 42.2KM, there will be clear signs indicating the distance to the next set of bathrooms, as well as signs directing runners towards the toilets.
At each toilet facility, there will also be volunteers ushering runners towards the fastest queue. If you can’t wait for a port-a-potty or simply can’t hold it in, runners are also welcome to use the Tokyo Metro toilets, Toei subway toilets (with some exceptions), and 7-11 convenience store toilets along the course.
It’s important to note that in previous years, runners towards the tail end of the crowd will not cross the start line until 20-30 minutes after the gun. In order to make the cut-off times for the initial checkpoints, runners should keep moving along without queuing for the bathroom, especially within the first 10KM.
At Tokyo Marathon 2019, the cut-off time for the 5.6KM checkpoint was 1030 and the 9.9KM checkpoint was 1100. Runners at the back of the pack may not cross the start until about 0940, giving them less than 50 minutes to reach the 5.6KM checkpoint and about 1 hour 20 minutes to reach the 9.9KM checkpoint.
The finish is where the Tokyo Marathon often receives demerit points.
While the Tokyo Marathon is organized top notch from start to finish, runners should be aware of the VERY LONG WALK from the finish line to receive hydration, collect finisher entitlements (towel, medal, foil blankie, etc.), and gather any personal belongings at the various collection points.
Of course, there’s a chance that they’ll “fix’” this come March but it’s better to be prepared for a long walk, than be surprised with a short, quick one 😊
If you are collecting personal belongings from bag drop, it’s a good idea to deposit a coat! It doesn’t take long for the adrenaline to wear off and the bitter winter cold to set in. There’s nothing like ruining your time in Japan with cold symptoms or feeling rotten on the flight home!
If you’re meeting friends and/or family, have a plan! Keep in mind that phone signal can be unstable during the Tokyo Marathon. To be safe, have a Plan B!
Tokyo Marathon 1MILEs 2020
There is a new event making its introduction at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon Week. The 1MILEs event gives kids and parents the opportunity to run on the warm-up track for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The approx. 1.6KM is designed for family and friends to enjoy running at its finest. The 1MILEs event will be held the day before the Tokyo Marathon, February 29 (Saturday) at 12:00PM.
February 29, 2020 (Saturday)
1 mile time trial: 350 people
4x400m Relay: 7 teams
4×1 mile Relay: 27 teams
1 mile time trial: middle school or older, capable of completing 1 mile (1600m) in under 10 minutes.
4x400m Relay: elementary school (4th-6th grade)
4×1 mile Relay: middle school or older
1 mile time trial: ¥4,000
4x400m Relay: ¥4,000/team
4×1 mile Relay: ¥8,000/team
December 13, 2019 (10:00AM) – January 17, 2020 (5:00PM)
12:00 Opening Ceremony
12:10 1 mile time trial starts
14:10 4x400m relay starts
14:30 4×1 mile relay starts
16:00 Exhibition Relay
16:30 Event closes
Meiji Jingu Baien Rubber-ball Baseball Ground
2-3 Kasumigaokamachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo
Shinanomachi Station (5 min walk)
What will aid stations be like?
The 2018 Tokyo Marathon featured fifteen aid stations – about one every 3KM or 2 miles. See below for descriptions of nutrition and hydration at each aid station.