The 2014 Boston Marathon is sure to be one of the most memorable marathons in the already vaunted marathon’s history. Since the Boston Marathon bombing last year, people around the country (and world) have expressed their support to the people of Boston and those who participated in last year’s marathon and were affected. Boston had to raise the cap on runners allowed this year because of the intense interest and even the volunteer spots have totally filled up. Most races have a hard time filling volunteer slots – the Boston Marathon received 5,000 more volunteer registrations than they had positions! What a great outpouring of support to the city and those who will be running those streets yet again!
As for the elite field, it is being called the fastest elite field that Boston has ever had. One of the late additions to the list was Ryan Hall, who has the unofficial American marathon record of 2:04:58 at Boston (it is unofficial because, even though Boston is hilly, it is a net downhill course and does not count for record purposes). It will be an incredible race to watch and, certainly, an awesome race to participate in this year. I will not be running it, though I really wish I could! I will have several friends running it and they are looking forward to it!
Travel to Boston
If you are going and you have not secured your travel arrangements yet, you will definitely find that it is going to be difficult to do so! You know it is bad when the cheapest hotels in the Boston area are coming up at over $300 a night – and they are hotels such as Ramada and Comfort Inn! Most chains are sold out (forget about points for anything in the city, just about!) with Hyatt having one hotel left – at $1,800 per night! At this point, your best option would be using SPG points to stay at the Sheraton Boston Colonial North Hotel. It has rooms available and only costs 3,000 Starpoints per night! That is a steal, especially considering the difficulty in obtaining rooms at all!
As far as flying in, for awards, many of the main airlines have no availability to Boston from their hubs (some have going but not returning and vice versa). The worst part is trying to leave on Monday or Tuesday. Most airlines are showing nothing at all. If you have not yet secured your flights, your best bet would probably be to plan to buy them outright. If you have a card like the Barclaycard Arrival, you can use those points to reduce or eliminate your airfare cost. Otherwise, you can just continue to check as time gets closer. But remember – American Airlines, United, and US Airways all charge close-in booking fees when you are within 21 days!
If you are within 650 miles of Boston, your best chance will be to use British Airways Avios to book your last minute award on US Airways. Granted, you will not be able to use Avios for US Airways flights until at least March 31, but they do not charge a close-in booking fee and they only charge 9,000 miles round-trip for trips under 650 miles each way (as opposed to 25,000). If you do not have British Airways Avios, you can transfer them from Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. You can also transfer from SPG, but that is not as good of an option. The good news is that some of the closer cities to Boston are showing availability to Boston (on US Airways, soon to be bookable with BA Avios), you that would be a great use of points for that short hop to Boston!
So, are you going? It should be an event to remember and I am just disappointed that I will not be able to participate there. Hopefully, some of you can do it and let me know how it was!
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