The best of Asia marathons

I have been looking at the running (or more precisely marathoning) scenario in Asia recently to find out more about the running culture in our continent. The following runs come to my mind:

  • Tokyo Marathon – Feb/Mar (quota – 25,000)
  • Hong Kong Marathon – Feb (quota – 8000)
  • Singapore Marathon – Dec (13,000)
  • Beijing Marathon – Oct (5000)
  • Mumbai Marathon – Jan (2000)
  • Bangkok Marathon – Nov (1900)
  • Kuala Lampur Marathon – Mar 18 (750)

I will be posting a summary of each of these runs, as and when time permits. I hope this post would gradually become the definitive guide to running in Asia.

Tokyo Marathon website

They have a quota of 25,000 runners for the marathon (42K). In 2008 edition, 130,062 runners actually applied and a lottery system decides who gets to run. They keep the course open for 7 hours, and actually have a closing cutoff time at every 5K distance! Every alternate water stop has customized sports drinks, and bananas available on most of the stopovers in the second half of the race. Weather remains extremely cool at 5-10 degrees C. They also have a 10K run for which there is a quota of 5000, for which approx. 30,000 runners applied in 2008. The first Tokyo marathon was held in 2005… indeed it has come a long way in a short time. And definitely, the #1 Asia marathon.

These Japanese people really have a great distance running culture. I guess they are the only ones from Asia who have really made it big in the world stage, regularly clocking 2:08 and around.


Hong Kong Marathon website

An attractive event on the Asia running calendar. The HK marathon started in the year 1997 and has Full and Half marathons, besides a 10K run. In 2008, the total participation figures reached 50,000. The quotas for 2009 are 8,000 for the Full marathon, 14,000 for the Half, and 33,000 for the 10K. The course is open for 5:30 hours. The 2009 run is on Feb 8th.

Singapore Marathon website

When: December
Total participants: about 50,000 (2009)
42K Runners: 13,000
Quota: No
Course: open 6:00 hours
Other runs: 10K
Weather: Hot and humid, not best for a PR
Organization: Excellent, amongst the best

This is the only Asia marathon I have run till date outside India, in 2007. For 2009, it has been given the Silver Label by IAAF.


Beijing Marathon website

When: October
Held since: 1981
42K Runners: 5,000
Time Limit: 42K – 5 hours, 21K – 2.5 hours
Other events: 21K, 10K, 4.2K
Weather: Mild autumn climate
IAAF Gold Label race
No Championchips except for 42K runners!

For a complete list of Asia marathons, check out the 42k195.com website.

More Asia marathon reviews:
iExplore – Top 10 Marathon and Triathlon Vacations – Asia / Far East

  • The Great Wall Marathon, Tianjin Province, China
  • The Great Tibetan Marathon, Ladakh, India
  • Laguna Phuket Triathlon, Thailand
  • Ironman China, Haikou, Hainan, China
  • Hong Kong Marathon
  • Siberian Ice Marathon, Omsk, Russia
  • Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon, Turkey
  • Ironman Japan, Goto, Japan
  • Mekong River International Multisport Asian Cup, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand
  • Laguna Phuket International Marathon, Thailand
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