Friday 23 Feb (aka Expo Day)

We awoke reasonably early this morning and after showering and admiring the view (it was very foggy so we couldn’t see anything) we headed out to the restaurant to have breakfast. Included with our  package is breakfast for every day in one of 3 restaurants. Today we tried out the Asian Buffet & Western Buffet restaurant.

I may or may not have been like a little kid given free reign in a candy store. For my first plate of food I had noodles, dim sim, fried chicken and dumplings. My second plate of food was a croissant, boiled egg, waffles, pancakes and some kiwi fruit. Kath had similar food, however I am sure I ate a lot more than she did.

After I had stuffed myself stupid, we made our way back up to our room, we did a slight detour to the front doors though to test the weather. Needless to say when we got back up to our room, we rugged up a bit more.

We then made our way to Shinjuku station to get our metro and train to get to the Marathon Expo…. Well for those that don’t know – Shinjuku is one of the biggest train stations in the world. It has over 100 exits/entries. We had to find a specific ticket machine in order to get our Suica pass (much like our Go Cards), it took us quite a while to find one of the machines, but once we did we were able to get a round a lot easier. We found our metro platform (thanks to Kath’s metro map reading skills) and hopped on without any troubles. We changed onto a overground train to go out to Big Sight (Tokyo’s convention centre) which is where the marathon expo was taking place.

We arrived really early, so after finding where the expo was in the HUGE building, we went and found a place to sit and Kath had a hot chocolate. It was 2 degrees.

At around 10.50 Kath suggested we walk to the entrance to see what was going on. When we arrived at the top of the escalator, we realised that people had been queuing up for a while and the bib collection line was rather long. Only runners were able to get into the bib collection area, so I said goodbye to Kath as she was going to go into another entrance to the expo area.

When 11am came around (marathon expo opening time) they announced something in Japanese and the 100 volunteers were clapping and cheering for all the runners. This was a really surreal moment for me as I have never been involved in a run of this size and it was really nice to feel as though you are a part of something really special. When I got to the start of the line, I was directed into the Overseas area. At this first “zone” my passport was checked against my confirmation ticket and my security arm band was fitted. This is used to get into the starting area on marathon day. I then went to another “zone” which issued us with our bag drop bag (essentially a huge plastic bag), a map (which we are meant to carry with us on the run – wtf!), a free 24 hour metro pass (woohoo), race bib (yes my number is in the 85,000’s) and timing chip (I know, I was shocked too given we are in such a technically advanced city that we are still using shoe timing chips). I was then directed into another lane in another part of the hall to get my security band scanned, chip checked and photo taken. One of the volunteers directed me to the non-overseas line… when I looked around in the queue and I realised that I was a bit of the odd one out, I just went and joined another line for the overseas runners. This “zone” took a bit longer. When I got to the front, they tested my timing chip and for the third time that morning I had to confirm it was me, the scanned my security band then took a mug shot of me with my race bib held up. The next “zone” was the one in which you pick up your event shirt, this one I did not have to confirm my name and was given a shirt and carry bag. I was then able to exit the bib collection area and find Kath at the expo.

Because Kath is just the best person in the world, she found me straight away and took me to the wall she found which had all of the runners names on it. The wall was organised by bib numbers only. In that they have the numbers at the top of the wall then you have to find your name somewhere in the thousands of people who also have their names on that section of wall. I found mine after a few minutes, another group who were there for a while before me were a bit annoyed that I found mine so quickly (clearly they were not very good at find a words).

The expo was absolutely mind boggling – it was like disneyland for adults. Everywhere there was something to do or look at. Firstly, we were given an alcohol free beer, the girl did question if I was over 20 though.. I did say I was 28, sorry 29, make that nearly 30.. before I was like yes, I am over 20 I just can’t remember by how much at this minute. We then went to an area where you could have a picture at the “start line”. That was good fun. Kath found a area where you could make a supports sign and then get a polaroid picture taken with it – that was super cool! We then went to the BMW stand which had a car race going on that you had to power the car using a stepper type machine. This was heaps of fun. Unfortunately, despite the fact I think we should have had a photo finish, I was beaten by a fitter Japanese man, Kath came in third. AMEX had a “finger marathon” where you had to use your fingers to “run” a marathon. We didn’t do this as the line was pretty long.

I had a picture with a girl in a kimono, and we went to a pacman exhibit and put a post-it note on the wall and had a picture with a pacman sign (please don’t ask why, there was a lot I did not understand about the expo). We were given so much free stuff including bags, notepads, bandaids, blister blocks and plastic folders (not sure why but they were super popular).

We went to the “official” merchandise stand and got a few small souvenirs. We then came out at some escalators. I got a bit upset cause I didn’t really get to see any proper running gear or merch (aka shirts etc). We went down the escalator and we walked into another hall which was actually where the fun really began! Asics is one of the largest sponsors of the Tokyo Marathon and they had the merch to prove it. There were about 40 different styles of shirts, numerous socks, hats, shorts, bags. I got a nice shirt (it did take me a while to decide on one – sorry Kath).

We continued through the expo and I got some new sunglasses, which were a very good price, they have adjustable arms and a nose piece – couldn’t be happier! We were getting pretty tired by this point but there was still another hall to go through! The last section was not as exciting for us who spoke no Japanese, but we did get some further free stuff like some more folders and some weird milk/water drink thing.

By the time we had finished all the expo we had been in there for nearly 2.5 hours! Our legs were exhausted. We had a small rest while I re-organised all of the bags and Kath drank one of the free (non-alcoholic) beers.

We were going to go to Joyopolis, which is like out TimeZone back home, however we were both completely exhausted, so we decided instead to go back to the hotel to drop off all of our stuff and then go out in Shinjuku to explore.

We got back to the hotel and dropped off all of our stuff, sorted through our stuff and then headed back out.  I found we had been given an official program/magazine which lists all the runners in the marathon in it – I am famous!

We then left the hotel and walked through Shinjuku station (took us nearly half an hour to get through the station to the other side) and then went for a little walk around. We went to Coco Curry, which does Japanese Curry (incase you didn’t get that from the name). We then went to a small arcade where we tried and unsuccessfully played a claw game. We then made our way back to the hotel, very full and with very fatigued legs to meet with the TravelingFit team to get our bus passes for after the marathon. Another very long trek through Shinjuku Station (we spent probably another 30mins trying to get from one side to the other) and we made it back to the hotel. We picked up our bus passes then went to the convenience store for some snacks.

I had a nice soak in the tub when we got back and now we are in bed (yes we have been since 5.45pm) and we are completely exhausted. Tomorrow we are participating in the International Friendship run, which is open to international runners (and supporters) to meet one another (and perhaps to tire us out so we don’t run so fast on marathon day??). I am getting very anxious that marathon day is coming up so quickly, but I am very excited to be participating in such a huge event.

Until the next post – Peace.



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