The Sixth Star


The Tokyo Marathon

 Below, another Canadian runner shares her story of completing the Tokyo Marathon, the sixth event in the Abbott World Marathon Majors series (the other five are Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York). Now in its 12thyear, the series attracts thousands of runners from 190 countries. Amateurs can vie to complete all the races in the coveted Six Star Finisher program, which was launched in 2014.

by Sharon Lindores, Six Star Finisher

A few weeks before the March race, the Tokyo Marathon race package arrived. Normally, this would be exciting—just what is needed in the lead-up to a big race. Instead, there was trepidation, as there were many rules. You can’t bring a sports drink. In fact, you can’t even bring an empty water bottle. You can’t run naked (not that I was planning to) and you’re advised to bring your mobile phone with you in case of an earthquake. How reassuring.

The race starts by the Metropolitan Government building and weaves its way through the city of 9.3 million people—past famous bridges, the Tokyo Skytree (at 634 metres high, the world’s tallest free-standing broadcasting tower) and finishes by the gardens of the Imperial Palace. The course is mainly flat and has a few out-and-back sections. I was lucky to see and cheer the wheelchair athletes and elite runners (some trying to qualify for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics) as they looped past me on the first switchback.

The crowds and the music along the course were great. For part of the time, I ran with a Japanese pacer. Although I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, he enthusiastically shouted an ongoing commentary about the course, pointing out landmarks and generally encouraging the group. It’s amazing how a good pacer speaks a universal language.

The Abbott team gives all the prospective Six Star Finishers a sign to pin on the back of their shirt so others know you’re completing the series. That definitely gets noticed and appreciated along the way. I planned to run all-out at 41 kilometres, but somehow missed the marker and had to sprint the last 200 metres. I managed to do a negative split, finishing slightly better than my previous race at around 3:52.36. Overall, it was a superb experience that gave me the chance to really appreciate the joy, energy and sheer exhilaration that running has brought to my life.

All photos courtesy: Tokyo Marathon 2019




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