Tokyo Marathon Becomes a ‘World Major’

November 5, 2012

Tokyo’s Marathon will officially be recognized as one of the World Marathon Majors, made up of races in five other international cities; Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York, and London.

This affirmation cements what running enthusiasts have known for years: that the Tokyo run is one of the largest and most lucrative races in the world.

The Tokyo Marathon used to be an elite-only race, but in 2007 it was opened as a mass marathon for the public. Every year, around 300,000 people apply for the limited 35,000 spots, with roughly 10% of runners coming from overseas. This year’s will be held on February 24th, and Tokyo’s inclusion into the world majors means three races will take place towards the beginning of the year, with the other two being Boston and London, and the other three races – Berlin, Chicago, and New York – in the fall.

As the first major marathon to take place outside of the U.S. and Europe, Tokyo’s organizers hope it will increase their number of potential sponsors, as well as increased interest from runners who try to participate in all the races. Naoki Inose, Tokyo’s Vice Governor, also hopes the inclusion of the Japanese capital will help the city’s chances in its bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

The marathon will promote to the world how attractive Tokyo and Japan is for sporting events, Inose says. Tom Grilk, the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Boston Marathon, commented that it has long been felt that Asia should be involved in world’s running events, and Tokyo was the perfect fit.