Tokyo Marathon adds nonbinary category for 2025 race

The 2025 Tokyo Marathon will allow athletes to select nonbinary as their gender identity instead of male or female during registration. Now, all six Abbott World Marathon Majors — a circuit of the largest, most renowned marathons across the globe — have a nonbinary category for athletes.

“The Tokyo Marathon Foundation is committed to promoting DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and aims to be the most inclusive race in the world,” the foundation, which organizes the Tokyo race, said in a news release on Monday.

In 2019, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation signed a pledge to promote gender diversity in sporting events with Pride House Tokyo, an organization that aims to create a safe space for LGBTQ athletes in Japan. Pride House Tokyo has been advising the foundation on best practices to accommodate athletes outside of the gender binary.

In addition to allowing participants to register under a nonbinary category, the next Tokyo Marathon, which will take place on March 2, will provide gender-neutral restrooms and changing areas located at the start line, finish and along the course. There will also be seminars on LGBTQ issues for volunteers and administrators working the event.

Activist and runner Cal Calamia has been a part of a growing effort to bring gender inclusivity into major races since 2022, when they fought for medals to be awarded to the top nonbinary finishers of San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers course. Calamia, who uses both he and they pronouns, has gone on to petition the world’s largest marathons, such as Boston and New York, to enact change.

He has competed in every U.S. Marathon Major since a nonbinary category was established in each.

“I felt a wave of relief and pride when I woke up to an email from my contact at the Tokyo Marathon Monday morning,” Calamia said. “Now, nonbinary marathoners can pursue our dreams of running all of the World Marathon Majors, just as men and women have been able to do for a long time.”

The other five World Marathon Majors — Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London and New York — added their own nonbinary categories in the last few years, starting with New York in 2021. New York made history in 2022 being the only World Marathon Major to award prize money to its nonbinary top finishers.

In its race guidelines for the 2025 marathon, Tokyo did not indicate whether there will be prize money awarded to any of its nonbinary competitors.

Since introducing a nonbinary field, participation of gender-diverse athletes in World Marathon Majors has grown. New York saw a doubling of its nonbinary competitors from 45 participants in 2022 to 96 in 2023. Meanwhile, London had a turnout of over 100 nonbinary competitors in 2023, its first year offering the category.

“The recognition of nonbinary athletes at Tokyo represents the power of the collective in advocating for our inclusion and will have effects across the globe that reach far beyond the running world,” Calamia said. “It’s imperative that these divisions do more than just exist.”