How to Enter the Tokyo Marathon Lottery
As the sport of marathons grows, it should come as no surprise that every year the popularity increases of the six marathons that are comprised of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. Each of the six majors: Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York City and Tokyo have strict restrictions on entering the prestigious races where most general entries are done through a lottery system.
Boston is the only marathon that requires having previously acquired qualifying times and even then there is no guarantee of entry. While each of the other majors at least provides you with a chance of entry, you must adhere to the strict schedule deadlines for the lottery. Currently, in August it is now the time of year to consider putting your luck on the table to enter the Tokyo Marathon lottery.
The youngest of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon in Japan, started its journey into the majors in 2007. The growth in popularity is mainly due to its flat and fast course and almost 7 hour finishing time limit. The Tokyo Marathon is also a marker in achieving the goal of those who wish to complete all six of the World Marathon Majors and to gain the distinguished six-star finisher medal.
The next Tokyo Marathon will take place on Sunday, March 1, 2020. This year is especially interesting as the Tokyo Marathon will also serve as the Marathon Grand Championship (MGC) Series final challenge and Olympic trials to determine the Japanese national team for the Tokyo Olympic Games being held in the summer of 2020. For the rest of us aspiring to enter the Tokyo Marathon, July and August mark the important dates to apply for the entry, through the lottery or other mechanisms, to become one of the lucky 37,500 runners from around the world to race in Tokyo, Japan.
How can you enter the Tokyo Marathon?
There are six ways to enter the Tokyo Marathon and we list them from the hardest to the easiest.
6. Be an elite runner
The hardest way to get into the Tokyo Marathon is by being an invited elite athlete. Limited to 100 able-bodied runners, the athlete will need to be a registered runner with the Japan Association of Athletics Federation (JAAF) and be nominated and invited by JAAF. The wheelchair elite also has strict criteria for the invitation to the Tokyo Marathon and is limited to 30 participants.
5. Be a semi-elite runner
Fast runners can enter the Tokyo Marathon by applying into their RUN as ONE overseas semi-elite program. Limited to only 300 participants, the ‘RUN as ONE’ program was created for exceptional runners who are non-residents of Japan. Each of the runners accepted into this program has had to have run a previous IAAF Label Race and/or AIMS certified marathon in certain qualifying times held the throughout the year before between July to June. The qualifying times are as follows:
- 2:21:01 to 2:45:00 (men)
- 2:52:01 to 3:30:00 (women)
4. Be a ONE TOKYO premium member
There is a premium membership club called ONE TOKYO, specific for Tokyo, Japan residents who pay a membership fee, and by being a member allows early entry into the Tokyo Marathon lottery starting the first couple weeks of July. 3,000 entries will be drawn by early August. If the entry was unsuccessful through this manner, the entry will be automatically entered into the Tokyo resident lottery and/or into the general entry Tokyo Marathon lottery. A new program beginning this year for 2020 and another benefit of being a ONE TOKYO premium member, is if the entries into the Tokyo Marathon were unsuccessful for 3 years in a row, the runner will automatically be entered into a ‘consecutively unsuccessful pool’ increasing their chances into all of the Tokyo Marathon lotteries.
3. Be a Tokyo Resident
Being a resident of Tokyo has its perks when entering the lottery for the Tokyo Marathon. During the last week of July, up to 1,000 Tokyo residents will have an early chance to gain a bib. Notifications are released in early September and for those who do not receive entry through this manner, will be transferred automatically in the Tokyo Marathon lottery for general entry.
2. Run the Tokyo Marathon through charity
There are three options by going through a charity that can help up to 5,000 runners get to the start line of the Tokyo Marathon. By raising awareness and funds, the charity program provides a way to help socially and run in honor of others and programs within the Japenese community that is in need.
- The Tokyo Marathon charity program offers non-crowdfunding on a first-come, first-served basis for up to 3,700 runners. During the 1st week in July, a one-time, straight donation of at least 100,000 JPY (~ $940) is made to the Tokyo Marathon 2020 Official Charity ‘Run with Heart”.
- Crowdfunding charity for ‘Run with Heart’ allows runners to collect over a period of little less than a month from July 22-Sept 13 wherein the end, the top 300 highest donations will be offered a bib into the Tokyo Marathon.
- Active charity allows runners to work with specific charity organizations affiliated with the Tokyo Marathon. Usually, there is an application process that is based on a first-come, first-served up to 1,000 slots. The minimum is usually 200,000 JPY (~ $1,880) and must be raised between July 22-Sept 25.
There 29 active charity recipient programs for the Tokyo Marathon 2020. Several of the individual charities are already closed, but here is a list of the remaining open charity recipient programs for 2020.
Japan for UNHCR: Provides shelters for refugees.
Solaputi Kids’ Camp: A medically capable campsite that hosts children with serious illnesses and their families.
Family House: Provides living facilities for families and medical care for children with critical illnesses.
Japanese Para-Sports Association: Promotion of Para-Sports.
Peace Winds Japan: Program that protects dogs’ lives, as well as providing training for disaster relief and therapy dogs.
Action against Child Exploitation: Protects children from child labor and provides education to help families living in poverty.
Médecins Sans Frontières Japan: Progam that send healthcare worker to help those in war zones to receive surgical procedures.
Plan International Japan: Provides support for girls in developing countries.
Sodateage Net: Protects children in poverty or those experiencing a troubled lifestyle.
MadreBonita: Provides support for new moms returning to work and their families.
NPO Kidsdoor: Provides meals for free for high school-aged children in poverty.
Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi (Children without Borders): Provides financial and educational opportunities for children in Cambodia and the Philippines.
Gold Ribbon Network: Program to improve the quality of life for children battling with cancer.
1.Enter the Tokyo Marathon lottery through the general entry
The almost easiest way to win yourself a place to the starting line of the Tokyo Marathon is through the general entry lottery. However, as the race grows in popularity the chances to be drawn gets increasingly difficult each year. During the month of August, the public, who are 19 years of age and older and can complete the marathon in 6 hours and 40 minutes, can enter the Tokyo Marathon lottery. The lottery provides a chance for 26,370 runners, each of who will be drawn and notified in mid-late September.
So, there you have it! There are many ways to get to the start line of the Tokyo 2020 Marathon. Whether you are an elite amateur runner, you do have a small chance of being able to run. The Tokyo Marathon lottery is certainly no guarantee and the chances are like one in a million, but like the actor, Jim Carrey says in the film Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance”?