【Report】Volunteer Pre-activity Report: Runner Packet Pick-up and Volunteer Sign-up at Tokyo Marathon EXPO 2024 ~ Information tent at Tomin Hiroba -Tokyo Metropolitan Government



Tokyo Marathon 2024 was held on Sunday, March 3, 2024 This year, a total of 37,000 runners from Japan and overseas took part in the event.

The success of this event is due to the hard work of all the runners who participated, and the voices of everyone who supported them along the way and on television, but we must not forget the work of all the volunteers who supported the event. What preparations did all the volunteers involved in the race make, and what were their thoughts as they approached the actual event? We spoke to volunteers who were assigned at the Pre-Race Information Tent set up at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the start point of the race and venue of the Tokyo Marathon EXPO 2024.

▪️Runner Packet Pick-up and Volunteer Sign-up at Tokyo Marathon EXPO 2024


On Friday, March 1, the second day after the Tokyo Marathon EXPO 2024 opened, Kei Okuyama was greeting runners at the Runner Verification and the Bib Pick-up Desk. He worked efficiently to verify runners' identities, distribute athlete bibs, and check timing tags.

"This is my first time volunteering for the Tokyo Marathon. I am joining as a member and am in charge of three tasks: guiding runners, verifying runners, and distributing bibs."

He started volunteering because his wife whom he has been married to for almost a year, enthusiastically invited him to. That's not to say that he had no choice, but after seeing her, who had been volunteering since she was a teenager under the influence of her grandmother, looking like she was having fun, he said that he thought "It looks like it would be fun.''

"It was shocking to see my wife volunteer not only in our neighborhood, but also in places as far away as taking the Shinkansen. She left at 5 in the morning, came back at 10 at night, and even if the next day she had to work again in the morning, she was saying 'It was so much fun!' Volunteering seemed like a part of life to my wife, and I thought if it was that much fun, I'd like to try it too.''

That's not all. There were other events that left a positive impression on volunteering for Okuyama. It happened when he moved house.

"All of my wife's volunteer friends helped out. I think there were about 12 people in total. They even helped to fold my underwear (lol). They helped us a lot, and as I wanted to thank the volunteers at that time, I decided to start joining it myself.”

At his wife’s recommendation, Okuyama first made his volunteer debut at the Tokyo Legacy Half Marathon 2023 in October last year, and at that time he was also in charge of verifying runners at the EXPO. Next, he was in charge of the finish area for THE CHALLENGE RACE SERIES 2 in 2024 held in February of this year, and this Tokyo Marathon will be his third time as a sports volunteer.

"It's fun to be able to help people who are working hard. Also, I would say that the people who are working hard, including both athletes and regular runners, are very nice people, that is to say that it is my impression that a lot of them are friendly people."

When he encourages runners from Japan and overseas, they smile and reply, "Thank you!" Okuyama said that such pleasant interactions actually make him feel better. On the other hand, at the Packet Pick-up of the Tokyo Marathon, where many runners participate from overseas, volunteers will naturally have to interact with many foreigners. Okuyama said that he had a hard time communicating in English, but he said that it was still a fun and valuable experience for him.

"I felt like things wouldn't go so well if I couldn't speak English. However, as I tried to get people to understand using simple English and gestures, I gradually began to understand how to get things across. This is also fun. I don't think it's okay to give up on something just because you don't understand the language. I especially learned this time that you should try to communicate somehow and don't give up on anything. This may be due to the gifted education of my wife, who will not give up just because she doesn't understand (lol)."


Okuyama will continue his volunteer activities, and his first goal is to obtain the volunteer leader certification. He also gave the following message to people of the younger generation who are aiming to become volunteers in the future.

"I think that my experience as a volunteer has greatly expanded my horizons. Maybe there is some kind of prejudice against people who have never been involved in volunteer activity. However, after getting involved, I want as many people as possible to experience how that feels. I was personally helped when I needed to move house, and the connections between the volunteers are really good. They're all people I respect, and their occupations are diverse. It's rare to get to interact with so many different people. Also, this time I interacted with many foreigners, and I don't think there are many opportunities for international exchange like this."

▪️Information tent at Tomin Hiroba -Tokyo Metropolitan Government


Meanwhile, on Saturday, March 2, the day before the race, the Pre-Race Information Tent for participating runners was set up at Tomin Hiroba in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the start point of the race. Because many runners come to take a preview every year, the Pre-Race Information Tent was set up for the first time this year. Once again, volunteers were there to welcome runners and guide them around.

When we spoke to one of the volunteers who was assigned there, he said, "Many runners come here who are running the Tokyo Marathon for the first time. They mainly ask about the route to the start gate and the location of the changing rooms." Given the impression that many runners visit with anxiety, he said, "I think this information tent will continue to be essential.''

For that reason, he said that he is most happy when he can ease the anxious faces of runners by sometimes walking with them to the start gate or the changing rooms.

"After all, I want all the runners to run the marathon without any worries. Seeing their relieved faces makes me happy. That's what makes it so rewarding."

He started as a sports volunteer in 2011 through activities related to the FC Tokyo soccer team. Later, at the invitation of a senior volunteer, he began volunteering for the Tokyo Marathon in 2013, and this will be his 10th time participating. On the day of the race, he is planned to join at the 40 km aid station as a volunteer leader. He conveyed the following message as he prepared for his commemorative 10th time volunteering for the Tokyo Marathon.
“I hope it will be a race where all the runners have fun running and all the volunteers have fun too. I’ll do my best tomorrow too!”

On the day of the Tokyo Marathon 2024 on Sunday, March 3, what were the volunteers thinking as they joined, and what kind of experiences and impressions did they gain? Thank you to all the volunteers who participated in the event!

  • 東京地下鉄株式会社