Diary Of A Six Star Finisher: Tokyo Marathon Recap
- March 14, 2023
When I ran my first NYC Marathon in November of 2015, never in a million years did I think this hobby that I picked up would take me all over the world, and to becoming one of 11,000 Abbott World Major Marathon 6 Star finishers....but it did! Tokyo marked a huge milestone for the majors. 3,033 people earned their 6th star this year in Japan. It was the most 6 star medals that had ever been issued at a major marathon, and garnered a Guinness World Record for the feat. The stars aligned for a great day to run a marathon, but this journey starts long before then.
When I completed my first major in 2015, I had no idea the 6 world majors even existed. All I knew was I lived in NYC, I could run 9 races, volunteer 1 time, and I would get entry into the NYC marathon, so thats what I did. I did the same thing again in 2016. It was an easy enough task, and if you live in NYC or the tri-state area we are very lucky to be afforded this opportunity. In 2016 I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon and was accepted so Chi town was checked off of the list. Next up was Berlin which didn't come as easy. I wasn't accepted through the lottery, but just so happened to see a 2nd chance email where you could donate 50 Euro (this price has gone up since) to charity and get an entry into the race; so thats what I did. Granted in 2016 & 2017 there were a lot less people running the majors, so it was much easier to get in via lottery, and through the donation entry that I used. At this time, I saw some friend doing the Tokyo marathon through the travel company Marathon Tours. I remember looking up the package prices and seeing $3,000 just for the hotel package and I thought there was no way I was paying that kind of money for lodging, so I'd figured I'd wait a couple years and see what happened. Well the majors became increasingly popular, and those couple of years turned into 6....but it was well work the wait.
Fast forward to 2022, and what I like to refer to as my best year of running yet, because it was just magical. We all know what happened in 2020, so my London entry was deferred from then. First came Boston in April 2022. You can read my RECAP and how it all went down. Then came London in October 2022 which was incredible, but between these 2 majors, I had the shock of my life. I received an entry into the Tokyo Marathon through their virtual race series. When the email first came I was in total shock and didn't believe it was real. I screenshot it and sent it to one person, told my husband, and that was it for a while. I didn't understand how I got so lucky in 2022, but god had a plan for me, and all I needed to do was execute it. I kept the news about Tokyo very close knit. I am a bit superstitious about these things, and am really not one to make announcements, so keeping things quiet is how I move...always. This is your sign to stop waiting for others, and just do it...like Nike, lol.
Now lets get to Tokyo. I don't think I had too many expectations going into this trip. I knew it would be different from any other trip I had taken, firstly this would be the longest flight I had ever taken, second, I had never visit Asia, lastly, I knew adjusting to the 14hr time difference would be brutal, and it was! Flight prices had been insane for at least a year now, and that goes for Tokyo too. I wanted to take a direct flight from NYC, but that cost was about $2,600. Multiply that by 2, and thats a whole lot of Yens! I opted for a connecting flight from NYC to SFO (5.5hrs), then SFO to NRT(10hrs). My return flight was HND to LAX, LAX to NYC. The return flight was about an hour shorter each way. 2 tickets with connecting flights ending up costing about $2,300 total, so this was a far better deal. I think breaking up the flight is better as well because there is just no way you'll sleep directly through a 14hr flight w/o some medical assistance.
Arriving in Tokyo wasn't a complete culture shock. It is very much a metropolitan city, and everyone is so fashionable. I really felt like I was at home in NYC. We arrived at 5pm, so by the time I was situated in my hotel it was close to 8pm and I was hungry. The first thing that I did was hit Ichiran! If you've never heard of it, it is a very famous Ramen restaurant originated in Japan. There are locations in NYC and other parts of the world, but Japan is the original, and it was on my must visit list. I visited 4 locations while in Tokyo, while I wished I could hit them all. You can get Ramen 24-7 in Tokyo, I was in love! At about $7.50 a bowl, I was surprised at how affordable it was to eat in Tokyo. This same bowl of Ramen at Ichiran in NYC will cost you 30 bucks...go figure!.
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