Tokyo Marathon 2023
The Tokyo Marathon takes place annually in late February or early March. It is one of the six World Marathon Majors. The event attracts elite and recreational runners worldwide. It is very prestigious. Of course, it attracts many photographers!
In 2023, the marathon course started at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Participants ran their way past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. They visited Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, and Ginza district. Their goal was Gyoko-Dori near Tokyo Station. 37000 people would run to it.
The race had a time limit of seven hours. That meant participants had to maintain a pace of at least 14 minutes and 10 seconds per mile. Elite athletes didn’t have a problem with that. But for many amateurs I saw, they surely struggled.
This was my first time photographing the Tokyo Marathon. I planned to shoot the start in Shinjuku and near Iidabashi Station. Two spots would be enough for some photos.
When I arrived in Nishi-Shinjuku, the area was already packed. The police presence was huge. Marathon staff were everywhere. Runners were looking for their gates. News helicopters were above. It seemed to be well-organized chaos.
My first plan was to situate myself in front of the Washington Hotel to see the start line. But there were too many people. My next stop was the second corner. I found stairs at the KDDI building to get some elevation. They put me above the ground level. I could shoot the first line of runners while being able to see to the back.
The first athletes to start were the wheelchairs. They were so fast! They came around the corner and were at second in lightning speed. I only had time to snap off a few shots. Then they were gone.
Five minutes later, the runners came. It was a sea of athletes. Thousands and thousands of people. They had come from all over the world to run. I stood in my spot for ten minutes, and there still was no end to them.
I decided to move to my next spot, Iidabashi Station. That was about 5 kilometers away. By the time I got there, the leaders had already passed it. But the sea of people continued to flow. It was incredible.
Iidabashi was a letdown in one regard. You were allowed to photograph from the pedestrian bridges over the road. That destroyed my plans! That would have been perfect for photos. Anyway, shooting from the roadside was good. And with that, I called it a day.
I thought about going to the finish line, but the frontrunners would have been long gone by the time I arrived. If I go again, I might wait at the end instead of the start. It was a difficult choice.
A final note. The number of people wearing costumes or funny hats surprised me. There were people in Minions suits. Spiderman and Captain America ran. There were plenty of people with bunny ears. Even a bride ran the event! Or maybe she was just lost and looking for her groom? Anyway, it was a lot of fun. Everyone enjoyed themselves.
Top 5 men’s finishers of Tokyo Marathon 2023
- Deso Gelmisa – Ethiopia – 2:05:22
- Esa Mohamed – Ethiopia – 2:05:22
- Getachew Kebede Tsegaye – Ethiopia – 2:05:25
- Titus Kipruto – Kenya – 2:05:32
- Cameron Levins – Canada – 2:05:36
Top 5 women’s finishers of Tokyo Marathon 2023
- Rosemary Wanjiru – Kenya – 2:16:28
- Gemechu Tsehay – Ethiopia – 2:16:56
- Ashete Bekere – Ethiopia – 2:19:11
- Edesa Worknesh – Ethiopia – 2:20:13
- Betsy Saina – USA – 2:21:40
Please leave your questions and comments below. And if you photographed Tokyo Marathon 2023, tell us about your experience. I’d love to hear from you.