Running in Asian countries has developed strongly in recent years.
In countries like Japan or China, new major running events are emerging year after year. While there have been many top runners in Japan or China for decades, popular sports have now also found great interest in running.
Some time ago, many marathons in Japan were purely elite races. But this trend is declining sharply. Some of the former elite races have long been open to the entire crowd of runners. There are now several running events in Japan with five-digit participant numbers, led of course by the Tokyo Marathon.
The biggest running events in Japan
The Tokyo Marathon is a typical example of the development of popular running in Japan. For the first time the race was held in 1981. But at that time, only elite male runners were invited. It eventually took until 2007 for the Tokyo Marathon to be open to everyone. Within just a few years, a real boom arose around the marathon in the Japanese capital. More than 300,000 athletes now apply for the 30,000 starting places every year. This means that only one tenth of the registered runners actually receive a starting place. Only elite runners can count on a fixed starting place, or they can get one through the travel agencies. But even here, the tickets are usually used up very quickly.
The Tokyo Marathon is held at the end of February or beginning of March. It is the fastest marathon on Asian soil. A time under 2:04 hours has already been achieved in the men's race and under 2:20 hours in the women's race. This feat was achieved for the first time in 2017 by Wilson Kipsang (2:03:58 hours) in the men's race and Sarah Chepchirchir (2:19:47 hours) in the women's race.
Other well-known marathons in metropolises with millions of inhabitants are the Osaka Marathon, the Nagano Marathon and the Nagoya Marathon. The Nagoya race is a women-only marathon. For a long time, only top female runners were allowed to participate here, too, before amateur runners were allowed to start for the first time in 2012. There are now over 15,000 female marathon runners who take part in the race in Nagoya every year.
Men's only races were held at the Fukuoka and Lake Biwa marathons until recently. However, these were cancelled following the decline in interest in elite races.
All Running Races in Japan (sorted by date) can be found in the following overview: