Active Travel



The ‘Easiest’ Way to Get in to The Tokyo Marathon

May 15, 2024 | Marathon Majors, Marathon Majors, Running, Travel

I know a lot of people who are on the hunt for their Six Star Medal and for many, they are missing one or two elusive bibs; Boston & Tokyo. 

To run the Boston Marathon you have a couple of options – run a time qualifier, run for charity (usually $10,000+) run with a tour company (I recommend Sports Tours International or 2.09 events) or enter the Six Star Ballot. 

For those wanting a Tokyo bib, the ‘easiest’ way of getting into the Tokyo Marathon is to run for charity. 

Run the Tokyo Marathon for Charity

Now it’s not as simple as applying for a range of charities like the London Marathon, nor do they simply set minimum fundraising requirements of $10,000 like most of the Boston Marathon charity bibs. 

Here’s what you need to know about entering the Tokyo Marathon for Charity: 

  • There are 5000 charity bibs for the Tokyo Marathon 
  • Minimum donation is 100,000 Yen/£500+/$650+ 
  • The process is essentially a silent auction system. You enter the amount you want to donate, essentially bidding for your bib. The money comes straight from your account (if successful – you can pay via credit card, bank transfer or PayPal). If/how you fundraise it back is up to you 
  • It’s all Japanese charities
  • Entry is open from the 26th June to 13th July 2024
  • You will be notified of your successful entry between 13th and 19th July (before the ballot results!) 
  • You can only apply to one charity with one bid. 
  • On top of your charity ‘donation’ you will also need to pay your race entry fee (last year it was $160)

When the charity names are published in late May, the Run with Heart page will have information for each charity in it, which includes the number of bibs available (ranged from 30 to 750) the minimum donation, how applications are prioritised (some are on earliest donation, some on what you write about the charity in your application and some on running with them in other races).

Here is the 2024 list of charities, number of bibs per charity and the average bib donation in Yen.

(sourced from a facebook group)

How much to donate to apply for a Tokyo Marathon charity bib 

Good question… as people have become aware of this route into the Tokyo marathon, donations have increased as they are still significantly cheaper than going via the tour company route. 

I know friends that have donated between £750-£1000, however this year I’d probably say £1000 should be the minimum you should expect to donate and have your entry be successful. I have seen some people suggest that smaller charities are more likely to accept a smaller bid – eg 150,000 Yen (£750/$1000) 

It’s also worth trying to pick a charity that resonates with you as you’ll need to write a brief paragraph on why you want to run the Tokyo Marathon for your chosen charity. Writing a thoughtful application

What do Charity Runners Get?

Obviously the bib is the major draw, but my friend Cortney told me that she was also received a charity Tokyo Marathon t-shirt and goody bag at the expo as well as an invitation for post race festivities.

How else to run the Tokyo Marathon

  • Ballot – mid August, no set date yet
  • Tour Group – register your interest now. Try Sports Tours International, Marathon Tours, 2.09 events and Destination Marathons.
  • Time qualifier – for women running sub 3.19 and men running sub 2.32 in the previous 2 years
  • With a brand – you’ll have seen influencers etc running with brands who get a small number of bibs. I was very lucky to be given my bib in 2018 by Asics which allowed me to earn my Six Star Medal. Read my review here.