Runners In Tokyo Marathon To Get 'wow' Finish From 2017

Runners in Tokyo Marathon to get 'wow' finish from 2017When runners in the 2017 Tokyo Marathon make the mad dash for the finish line, they'll be running in front of the Imperial Palace grounds with the red-tiled roof of Tokyo Station to their backs.

Organizers decided to change the course starting next year to give participants a "wow" finish.

"If that area is made the finish line, everyone will understand they are in Tokyo," said Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe. "We want to further build excitement for the race by increasing the appeal of the Tokyo Marathon to more people, including the runners from Japan and abroad."

For the first 10 runnings of the marathon, which attracts tens of thousands of runners and even more spectators and volunteers helping out, the finish line was the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition hall complex on the shores of Tokyo Bay in Koto Ward.

The site was selected for the logistical reason that it was large enough to accommodate the huge number of runners who complete the 42.195-kilometer race. In the latest one held in February, 96 percent of the 36,647 participants finished.

However, officials felt that the finish line was not up to speed with the other races recognized as World Marathon Majors. For example, the Berlin Marathon's finish line is the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol for German reunification. Iconic Buckingham Palace serves as the majestic backdrop for the finish line of the London Marathon.

The Tokyo Marathon joined that elite group in 2013. Other marathons considered as majors are ones in New York, Boston and Chicago.

To match such locations, officials wanted a "face" of Tokyo to serve as the finish line area and settled on the wide boulevard in front of Tokyo Station, which is known as Gyoko Street.

The starting line will continue to be in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building in Shinjuku Ward, but other changes to the course will allow runners to pass through some of the more tradition-laden parts of Tokyo known as the "shitamachi," or lower town, area.

One Tokyo ward that will be newly included in the course is Sumida Ward, which lies to the east of Tokyo Station. Runners will pass by the Ryogoku district, where the Kokugikan is located. The venerable arena hosts grand sumo tournaments three times a year.

Local residents are already thinking about further changes so that runners can eventually pass by Tokyo Skytree, the world's tallest free-standing tower, at 634 meters.