Skip to main content

Tokyo Marathon Announces Major Course Change for 2017

http://www.marathon.tokyo/news-media/news/news_000062.html

translated by Brett Larner
click here for a map of the 2017 Tokyo Marathon course

Thanks to your support, last month the Tokyo Marathon celebrated its tenth edition as an annual event since its first running in 2007.  During those ten years the landscape has changed dramatically, from redevelopment in the city center that has brought about a spectacular new Tokyo cityscape to the evolution of the marathon as a high-speed event and the rise to international prominence of wheelchair racing.  Thus, from the twin perspectives of showing the best of modern Tokyo inside and out and of offering a course capable of producing the fastest times in the world, the Tokyo Marathon will feature a new course beginning with 2017's race.

Translator's note:  Roughly 13-14 km of the 2017 course will cover new and flatter ground, the rest representing a shuffling of current segments.  The new course keeps the same starting point at Tokyo city hall but eliminates the unpopular hilly and barren last 6 km, moving the finish point to its originally envisioned location between the western side of Tokyo Station and the eastern side of the Imperial Palace.  

To achieve this the course will no longer pass the Imperial Palace between 5 and 10 km, instead heading through more nondescript business districts to a new 10 km point at Nihonbashi.  There it picks up the out-and-back to Asakusa that formed the third quarter of the old course, with the addition of an entirely new ~9 km out-and-back segment on the eastern side of the Sumida River between 16 and 25 km before returning through Ginza.  The ~10 km long out-and-back to Shinagawa that formed the second quarter holding pattern of the old course now makes up its last 10 km, with the finish outside Tokyo Station offering the only glimpse of the Imperial Palace.  

As such the new course is both a win and a loss, doubtlessly succeeding in the goal of being faster but pretty questionable on the other goal of showcasing the best of Tokyo despite the elimination of the bridges-and-landfill blight of the old finish.  The politics of dealing with the Tokyo police department and the Imperial Household Agency are complex, but while it's not the best remix that could have been done the new course should at the very least make up for its shortcomings by offering the average runner better crowd support late in the race and far more convenient post-race logistics.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men