Let’s discuss the Tokyo Marathon

This week’s featured article


February in Tokyo is the season for running, as thousands prepare for one of the world’s major sports events: the Tokyo Marathon. A record 37,000 runners plan to take part in the race on the last Sunday in February. The race marks its 10th anniversary this year.

Tadaaki Hayano, race director of the Marathon Foundation organizing team, said the Tokyo Marathon has always been popular with amateur runners. However, it took time for the newly inaugurated race to become recognized as a world-class event.

In 2013, the Tokyo Marathon was approved as a member of the Abbot World Marathon Majors, a marathon grand slam series where participants compete in six cities, starting in Tokyo, followed by Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.

The organizers were required to step up security after a bomb attack near the finish line of the Boston Marathon the same year killed three people and wounded around 260. They have introduced squads of police, doctors and relief teams of runners with first aid and portable AED equipment in case of heart attacks.

These measures have bolstered the Tokyo race’s reputation for being a well-organized and possibly the safest such event, which now draws attention and new participants from overseas.

“This is what we are really proud of,” Hayano said. “I think the race has gained recognition as a … major festival, something beyond a sports event.”

In fact, 62.6 percent of the participants in the 2015 event said the festive atmosphere was the reason why they applied.

When the race first started, organizers budgeted for 30,000 runners. “We weren’t sure if we would be able to attract so many,” Hayano said. The target was easily met.

For Hayano, the ultimate prize would be if the Tokyo Marathon were to become known as the world’s best a decade from now.

“To achieve that we have set specific goals,” he said. “We want to make this race the most exciting, the safest and the most enjoyable event in the world.”

First published in The Japan Times on Feb. 26.

Warm up

One-minute chat about sport.


Collect words related to Tokyo, e.g., Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace, Asakusa, etc.

New words

1) inaugurate: to make a formal beginning, to introduce into public use; e.g., “The company inaugurated a new train line.”

2) squad: a small group of people with a particular task; e.g., “The country sent in a special squad to rescue the hostages.”

3) decade: a period of 10 years; e.g., “It has been a decade since we last met.”

Guess the headline

To r_ _ _ _ _ _ and organizers, Tokyo M_ _ _ _ _ _ _ more than just a race


1) When was the Tokyo Marathon launched?

2) Why did the marathon have to step up security?

3) What might be some of the factors that attract runners to the Tokyo Marathon?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What kind of exercise do you do or which physical activities would you like to try?

2) How do you think the Tokyo Marathon is doing in general?

3) What would you suggest the organizers do to help them realize their dream?



普段それぞれの場で走っている市民ランナーたちが一堂に集うマラソン 大会の中でも、東京マラソンは特に成功したイベントと言えるでしょう。 主催者が言うように、ただのスポーツイベントを超えたお祭りのような 雰囲気がそこにはあります。世界的にも有名になりつつある東京マラソンは、今後どのような走りを見せてくれるのでしょうか。


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