The beautiful, historic city of Kyoto will host a marathon on February 15th.
This series of posts will focus on the temples, shrines and other attractions dotted along the course. If you are visiting at the time of the marathon to support a friend or loved one, I hope that you will have a chance to visit some of these places! Do spare some time before or after the day of the race to visit some of the other wonderful places there are to see.
20KM — 25KM
Access: Kitayama Station, Subway Karasuma Line
The runners head south after passing Kamigamo-jinja and make a left turn at Kitayama-dori to start heading east again.
Just before the halfway mark, the race passes the Kyoto Botanical Garden (京都府立植物園). The majority of people coming to Kyoto don’t come here for flora and fauna, but it is fairly large at 240,000 sq. m. with over 12,000 plant species. It is divided into a number of sections including a bamboo forest and bonsai. If you find yourself in need of a break from temples and shrines, this could be the place for you.
There are no major sights further along the road here, though of course Kyoto is never lacking the odd small or relatively unknown shrine and temple where you least expect it. The runners make their way out east until approximately 23k and then turn back along the same road.
My Recommendation to Supporters: This is the first part of the race since Arashiyama that is directly accessible by train (in this case the subway). If you are staying in the Kyoto Station or Shijo-Kawaramachi areas (most popular for hotels) you can simply take the Karasuma Line north. Depending on the pace of the runner you are supporting, you could take a quick look at the gardens in the 40-60 minutes between them passing for the first time and then passing again after the turning point in the course. Or come early if this is the first point along the course where you will be supporting. Combined with Kamigamo further back up the road, you can kill a few hours.
25KM — 30KM
Access: Kitayama, Kitaoji or Kuramaguchi Stations, Subway Karasuma Line
The runners spend a lot of time in a fairly contained area as they run two open loops — one by Kyoto Concert Hall (京都コンサートホール) and one through the gardens. So this makes the perfect spot to see your friends or loved ones.
If you prefer watching down by the river, the race runs down along the Kamo River from around the 27-kilometre mark.
My Recommendation to Supporters: Runners often hit the famous wall around 30k, though I have experienced it as early as 24-26k. While the main causes of the wall are physiological (due to a loss of glycogen in the body), there are also some psychological aspects to it. That little bit of extra support could just make the difference for someone starting to doubt their ability to finish the race.
Part 4 (30 to 35 kilometres) will cover the stretch from Shimogamo-jinja, along the river past the Imperial Palace and towards Kyoto City Hall.