Its was finally race day! I was so nervous, the nice thing was that the race didn't start until 9:00AM, there was no reason to wake up super early as I'm used with all my other races. The races started at the Osaka Castle, we stayed very close, its was still a train stop away, but nothing like going to the Expo.
I got to the Castle with an hour to spare, the weather was perfect for short sleeves. I figured, I had plenty of time to use the restroom and make my way to my corral. The line didn't seem too long for the restroom, but it took forever and when time is ticking, it seems like an eternity. I made with just about 15 minutes before the race was starting and I didn't know how far I had to go to get to corral "M", which is were I was supposed to be. I ran as fast as I could and followed the signs to my corral. I had just enough time to snap some selfies with the Castle and then I noticed that they had already closed the street where I was supposed to turn to get to my corral. I didn't speak the language, so I couldn't ask anybody, but I did see others with bibs that were after mine, so I wasn't too concerned. There were a bunch of runners now waiting, I saw corral E was in front of us as the starting gun went off.
Finally we saw racers moving and when they got to corral K, they let everybody who was waiting join in, so I actually got to enter the race before I was supposed to, I guess things work out well after all. Good things come to those who wait, right?
|Picture from OsakaMarathon.en.com|
|I like this guys shirt :)|
There were so many runners there, it was literally a sea of people, you could not run your own pace, that's for sure, you just had to go with the flow. Thankfully they are not slow runners there, so I could go at a pace that was reasonable for me. I had memorized the course and knew at what point to expect what, the highlight for me was the Dotonbori, we got to run right by it, of course I had to take a few pictures. I took lots of pictures along the way, I couldn't resist, it was my first marathon after all.
I have to say that the spectators were amazing, the best I had seen in all the races I've ran. There were so nice, they all wanted a high five and kept yelling encouraging words ( I think so anyway ;)) They offered candy, there was a little boy holding a tray of candy and I couldn't resist, I picked a strawberry KitKat! They had tons of photographers on the course with assistants holding huge camera signs, so we all knew to smile.
Even though the rules of the race stated "no fancy dress", which I took that as no costumes, There were tons and tons of people dressed up. I saw the Power Rangers, Pikatchu, three guys in a full black suits and fedoras, Samurai, Panda and Onigiri, I even saw this guy who had made this huge head, that he had to hold it up the entire race. It was crazy, but crazy amazing!
They also had a food station at the 33 kilometer mark, unfortunately by the time I made it there much of it was gone, but I still got a few good samples of things. I had sweet bean filled pancakes (not my favorite, but that only because I'm not a fan of sweet bean anything), something that tasted and resembled of chicken nuggets, cream filled cookies, bananas and rice balls, I think. I can't even think of everything they had there, but it was pretty good. For drinks at each water station they of course had water and and energy drink called Aquarius. They did run our of drinks at some of the water stations, not even a drop of water. I actually saw runners run into 7-Eleven stores and bought their own and get drinks from vending machines. I actually saw a guy wearing his marathon bib standing in front of 7-Eleven holding an energy drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other, I couldn't believe it.
Good citizens of Osaka were also there to help with spraying cold spray on peoples achy knees and legs, that was the sweetest thing I've seen at a race. I'm telling you, I would move to Japan in a heart beat. This just confirmed to me what a great country and society it is.
I've never been happier to see the finish line! 6 hours and 11 minutes after I crossed the starting line. Best feeling in the whole world and I told myself I would never ever do this again. Writing this now a month later, I actually take that back, I would run another marathon again.
After the race all the racers moved through the expo center again, they put the medal around my neck, they actually punched a hole through my bib to confirm I got the medal and then they put the finishers towel around my neck and I got a bottle of Aquarius. Next they did finishers pictures, where they put a fake olive leave wreath on my head and posed me just right and took a few pictures. Then I headed out to go back to the subway station. On the way out they handed everybody a newspaper form October 26th, 2014 with a huge two page story on the Osaka Marathon from that morning, I couldn't believe it, that was so cool!
Getting out of there was an adventure on its own, after I ran the Marathon, the last thing I wanted to do was walk a ton to the subway and stand up all the way back to the hotel. That's exactly what happened. The streets were closed for the race, there was no straight way to the subway, they made us walk another mile out of the way to get there and then I had to stand up the whole 30 minute subway ride back, because everybody was trying to get out of there.
I would recommend this race to anybody, it was so much fun!!!
Keep on running...