General Information

Information about the Tokyo Marathon 2019 for anyone involved.

Elite Wheelchair Race

The Wheelchair Race as an International Event

Since Tokyo Marathon 2016, the wheelchair marathon race (T53 & T54) has been officially sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee.
Additionally, since Tokyo Marathon 2017, the wheelchair race has been an official event of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Abbott WMM) Wheelchair Marathon Race Series, for which the point system applies.

Race Information

1) Category: Wheelchair marathon (Elite)
2) Sanctioned by: International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
3) Course: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building -- Iidabashi -- Kanda -- Nihombashi -- Asakusa Kaminari-Mon -- Ryogoku -- Monzen-nakacho -- Ginza -- Takanawa -- Hibiya --Tokyo Station/Gyoko-dori Ave.(This course is certified by the JAAF and AIMS/IAAF.)
4) IPC classes: T53・T54
5) Time limits: Men - 1 hours 50 minutes; Women - 2 hours
6) Capacity: 30 racers

Preview of Elite Wheelchair Race

(AS of January 23, 2019)

Tokyo Marathon Wheelchair Race Director
Masazumi Soejima

The Japanese athletes won the wheelchair division of Tokyo Marathon for two consecutive years since 2017, the year the new course was inaugurated in the Tokyo Marathon. In 2017 six athletes fought it out till the finish line, while in 2018 two athletes exchanged surges to the end. How will the race unfold this year?
In the wheelchair race, many athletes tend to make their moves on the long-inclined slope, either uphill or downhill, but there is no particular slope that stands out in Tokyo, except the downhill incline just before the 5km point. The athletes are likely to stay in pack from the start, but considering that wheelchair can attain the speed over 50km/h on downhill, someone might make a move on this section in their attempt to pull away from the other competitors to take the lead.
On the other hand, it is possible that athletes may use wait and see approach which keeps the pack intact.
But athletes prefer smaller pack, so we may see an athlete trying to break up the pack by changing their speed constantly. Variety of tactics and approaches involved in wheelchair racing is what makes it exciting. Who will lead the race? And who will fall off from the pack? Watch how the size of the pack changes as the race progress.
Because a high speed is involved in the wheelchair racing, a wind is an important factor and the athletes are likely to race in a single file to avoid breaking the wind. Since the athletes have to spend an extra energy when leading the pack, it is beneficial for the race if athletes take turn to lead the pack to maintain a steady pace. Such tactic is often called “rotation”, and when rotation takes place frequently, the race tends to be fast paced.
A leading athlete will shake their head left to right to signal other athletes to take the lead, but some will avoid taking the lead in order to conserve the energy, which sometimes will result in the pack to spread sideways. If you pay close attention to athletes individually, you may recognize each athlete’s tactics.
If the race stayed close to the end, the positioning before turning left into the last home-stretch becomes important. Since a single stroke can make a great difference, any athletes will try to take the lead before entering the final stretch. Therefore, the Marunouchi-Naka-Dori Ave, just passed 41km point, will become an important section. Many athletes describe this cobblestone road as “long and tough”, and from my experience from the last year, the vibration from the cobblestone road is violent and great maneuvering will become important.
There is one more point to be focused this year. Abbott World Marathon Majors series XII introduced “Sprint bonus points” system in the wheelchair division. The athlete who cleared the pre-set condition wins “bonus points.” The pre-set conditions are: (1) Go through the set point in first place; (2) record the fastest time for the pre-set section. The pre-condition (2) was selected as the bonus point criterion for the Tokyo Marathon this year.
More specifically, the bonus points will be given to the athlete with the fastest time in the 1.3km segment from 35.8km point right after the second turn-around point in Takanawa to 37.1km point. Like “Kukan-sho,” the fastest stage in Ekiden, anybody can shoot for the bonus point regardless of their current position. Since the pre-set section is near the end of the course where racing start to get tough, the whole race may speed up at this point. Watch for the action in this section.

Wheelchair Bonus Points

New for Series XII, wheelchair athletes will be able to take home a potential eight bonus points in the new sprint competition.
For the Tokyo Marathon 2019, the Bonus Points competition will be approximately 1km sprint competition from the turning point around 36km to roughly 37km point, as shown in the course map, and the points will be awarded to the fastest to complete that section, regardless of their place in the pack at that time.
Let’s cheer on all the athletes who compete to win the bonus points!

Course Map is here.

■Battle for the Supremacy at Gathering of Eagles

Wishing to present the truly elite wheelchair race to the world, nine male and eight female athletes including the winners from all six Abbott World Marathon Majors events in 2018 are invited. It is truly a gathering of eagles. However, many of them will race in Tokyo for the first time and Marcel Hug (SUI) who won Boston Marathon in April will lead the field. Currently the best in the world, Hug excels in all aspects of racing. He can race away from the field from the early stage of the race, or out-sprint the competitions just before the finish line. In the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon, he recorded the 2018 season best of 1:23:56. Since Hug was second in the 2017 edition of the Tokyo Marathon, and missed the 2018 edition of the race with flight issues, we expect him to shoot for the victory by racing aggressively in Tokyo this year.
David Weir (GBR) who won the London Marathon in April, is not a front runner. Instead he waits and sees if anybody makes a move and react when the time comes. It is interesting to see his positioning within the pack, for this is his first Tokyo Marathon.
Brent Lakatos (CAN) who won the Berlin Marathon in September is actually a sprinter who excels at 100m. It is bit surprising that he competes in the T53 category, but won the race against T54 category racers, those with slightly lighter handicap. Such is a fascinating aspect of wheelchair racing.
Daniel Romanchuk (USA) won the Chicago Marathon in October and the New York City Marathon in November. He is the youngest in the field at twenty and perhaps the rising star of the future. Hope to see his aggressive racing style inspires his competitions.
Yoo Byunghoon of Korea, who finished third in the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon in November, is also invited. With the superior speed he honed in the track race, Yoo is rising fast in the marathon distance. He, like Lakatos, competes in T53 category. They are both light weights, and thus their reduced resistances might help them in the competitions. Two rookies in the Tokyo Marathon might fight it out till the end with their superior sprint ability.

Among the Japanese, last year’s champion, Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Fukuoka) is the oldest among the invited athletes. He excels over the Tokyo Marathon course, so he will be ready.
Tomoki Suzuki (Toyota), who finished second in Oita International Wheelchair Marathon, may be at the height of his power. He is not a front runner but likely to sit and wait in the pack before unleashing his power near the end of the race.
On the other hand, Hiroki Nishida (Baccarat Pacific), who finished fifth in the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon, can compete aggressively from the start and make the race exciting.
Sho Watanabe (Toppan Printing), who won the Tokyo Marathon two years ago, also has great potential. The Invited Japanese athletes are expected to compete well against the invited athletes from abroad.

On the women’s side, last year’s champion Manuela Schar (SUI), who set the world record of 1:36:53 on the Berlin course, also won the Chicago and New York City Marathons. It shows that she is in awesome shape.
Madison de Rozario (AUS) who won the London marathon competes in T53 category. She is on the rise and also endowed with superior speed to win the final sprint to the finish line.
The Boston champion Tatyana McFadden (USA) always finishes within the top rank. I expect these three athletes to set a good pace.
Among the Japanese, Tsubasa Kina (Tireland Okinawa) set a personal best of 1:39:36 at Oita International Wheelchair Marathon, and she is steadily improving. Hope to see her stay with the world class athletes until the very end, fighting for a medal.
Both men’s and women’s field are expected to be great. Watch the race along the course or on air. It will be a nice preview of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

The current course is generally known as “flat and fast course” which explains fast marathon times. However, wheelchair athletes assess the course as “quite tough.” In fact the winning time for the men’s wheelchair race was 1:28:01 in 2017 and 1:26:23 in 2018, quite a distance away from the world record of 1:20:14.
The pacemakers are not employed for the wheelchair racing and thus each racer need to maintain his/her own pace. It is a difficult part of the wheelchair racing but at the same time, it is the best part of the wheelchair racing.
The field includes those who can aim for the world record. If athletes took turn in leading the pack, the record is possible. Hope everyone can enjoy and cheer the wheelchair racers, for the race is full of speed and power.

All Wheelchair Elite Athletes (AS of January 23, 2019)

Biography of the Wheelchair Race Director, Masazumi Soejima

Born in 1970. At the age of 23, his spinal cord was injured due to an accident while he was working at the iron factory, which was his family business. Since then, he has been confined to a wheelchair, and learned about the disabled sports while he was in the hospital. He then started to be attracted to the fun of sports and started take up wheelchair marathoning.
Since 2007, he’s been participating in the World Marathon Majors races and has won many races, including Tokyo, Boston, New York City and Berlin marathons.
In April 2014, while still competing as a world’s top athlete himself, he established his own foundation to support the challenges of children in wheelchairs by providing them wheelchair racing opportunities, including his own coaching, which allow them to pursue the goal of becoming a world-class athlete.


Career Highlights:

2007-2009, 2011, 2013 Tokyo Marathon 1st
2004 Athens Paralympics 4 x 400m relay 3rd
2007 IPC World Championships in Osaka 1500m 3rd
2012 London Paralympic Marathon 4th (Top Japanese)
2011 TCS New York City Marathon 1st
2007, 2011 Boston Marathon 1st
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  • Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.
  • Major Partners
  • STARTS CORPORATION INC.
  • Yamazaki Baking Co., Ltd.
  • ASICS Japan Corp.
  • Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
  • Main Partners
  • BMW Japan Corp.
  • KINTETSU INTERNATIONAL
  • The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited
  • SEIKO HOLDINGS CORPORATION
  • SECOM CO.,LTD.
  • Toray Industries, Inc.
  • McDonald's Company (Japan), Ltd.
  • Active Partners
  • Mizuho Bank, Ltd.
  • Seven-Eleven Japan Co.,Ltd.
  • ASAHI BREWERIES, LTD.
  • American Express International, Inc.
  • ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS CO., LTD
  • Photocreate Co.,Ltd
  • ZENROSAI(National Federation of Workers and Consumers Insurance Cooperatives)
  • KONICA MINOLTA, INC.
  • Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Co.,Inc.
  • Daiwa Securities Group
  • Shiseido Japan Co.,Ltd
  • BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
  • HJ Holdings, Inc.
  • Westin Hotels & Resorts
  • Supporting Partners
  • NIHON KOHDEN CORPORATION
  • KOYOU RENTIA Co.,Ltd.
  • Shimizu Octo,Inc.
  • EMTG Co., Ltd.
  • Dole Japan, Inc.