Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tokyo Marathon 2014 Expo - Massive, Organized and Friendly

Marathon Diaries - Tokyo Marathon 2014 Expo

By the time I woke up this morning, the sun was already out.   After a long trek from Chennai Via Hong Kong and a long journey from Narita to the hotel.  I landed in my hotel room with a heavy headache.  After some initial trouble getting to sleep, I must have dozed off like a rock.

I woke only after realizing that I would my miss rendezvous with Arun if I slept any longer.  I still missed him, as I grossly underestimated the time it took to get to the Expo and the milling crowd to plough through.

I am staying at a hotel near Temeiki-Sanno metro station and had to take two trains to get to Big Sight, where the Expo was happening.  Hotel concierge said it would take around 30 minutes to get there.  But, she must not have taken my unfamiliarity with the Tokyo train system into account, as it took twice that time to get to the Expo.  Tokyo runs because of its trains.  There are all kinds of trains connecting all parts of Tokyo and beyond.  From Shinkansen to subway to metro, trains weave through Tokyo, making it easy to choose public transport as your first choice.  Yet, the trains and subway maze can be a bit unnerving for the uninitiated and non Japanese.  But, once you figure it out, and it doesn't take long to figure it out, then everything makes sense.  All trains, train stations, exits are all numbered and color coded, making it easy for everyone to travel easily.  After some initial bungling, I decoded the map and was off to Big Sight switching trains at Shimbashi.

 By the time I changed train at Shimbashi and arrived at Big Sight, a huge crowd was also getting there, delaying me further.  This eventually meant I reached our meeting place 40 minutes late and missed Arun at our designated spot.
 Big Sight, where the Expo was happening has a unique architecture, entire structure rests four massive pillars concealing the vastness of it.  From the connectivity and people's familiarity, Big Sight looks to be the happening place.  Besides the marathon expo, there were 2 other events happening at that place attracting hundreds of folks.  Yet, the area didn't look like packed, trains were frequent and reasonably comfortable.  Talk about planning & infrastructure scaling..
 Can you guess what is this about?  I found it interesting.  They are promoting .tokyo high level domain.  Now that the high level domain policy has been relaxed liberally, there are lot more opportunities for creative domain names.  How about .chennai, .delhi .mumbai etc... Do I see a business opportunity here?  yes.. yes..
 Compression socks, dress seemed to be big business at the expo.  There were all kinds of vendors selling all sorts of compression running gear charging beaucoup monies for them.

Expo was large, yet packed.  This expo is easily one of the largest running expo I have been to.  Though today was the fourth day of the expo, it was very crowded making it difficult to navigate through.  Yet, the staff and volunteers were friendly and made the overall experience pleasant, despite of the obvious language issues for runners like me.
This is the first marathon in Tokyo after it became part of 'World Marathon Majors' and Boston bombing.  Yet one could hardly see any visible police or security presence.  This is stark contrast to high level of policing and security presence in London Marathon last year.

More photos from the Expo here