Destinations Marathons Reviews

Dubai Marathon Trip – Introduction

This is part 1 of my Dubai Marathon trip report. I did this trip as a way to show what is possible with points by using them to reach an international marathon. Another purpose of the trip was to take as many different airlines and first class cabins as possible with those points so I could review these various cabins. I know many of you have earned many points from the various cards and methods we have talked about here and some of you have asked what is the best way to use these points. I know it can take a while to earn points and miles and if you are earning them for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you want to know the best way to use those points. I can’t tell you what is the best airline for you but I wanted to give you some various options so you can make the best choice.

Dubai Marathon

Map of the flights I was on from a downward view

I will cover this trip over several parts so as not to overwhelm everyone with one post. I have many photos and even some videos that I will be including as well as my experience with these various airline segments. It was a tremendous trip that basically had me flying around the world. Here is an overview of the trip:

  • Departed Tuesday, January 22, 2013
  • Returned Saturday, January 27, 2013
  • Hit 8 countries during the trip – US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Doha (Qatar), Dubai (UAE), Paris, London
  • Traveled 21,000+ miles
  • Traveled on 5 airlines – Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Emirates Airways, British Airways, Jetblue Airways
  • Traveled in several airline cabins – Cathay Pacific First Class (777-300), Cathay Pacific Business Class (A330), Qatar Airways Business Class (A321), Emirates Airways (A380), British Airways Economy (A319), British Airways First Class (747-400), JetBlue Economy (A320)
  • Ran in a marathon in which 5 men went sub- 2:05 for the first time in history
  • Stayed in 3 hotels


I have known about the Dubai Marathon for several years. It is known throughout the running community for being the race that is very eager to have the world record set there. Haile Gebrselassie had attempted to better his own record (at the time). It used to be a $1 million bonus for breaking the record. This has always made me want to run it (not to win!) to experience a race that has such incredible talent and do so in an incredible city. When my schedule made way for this to be my review marathon, I knew this would be the one.

The Dubai Marathon is run during their winter, which is a good thing since the temperature goes way over 110 during the summer. That makes Dubai bearable as a tourist destination. I wish I had had more time to explore the city. I was on the ground for less than 23 hours so that didn’t give me much time at all. I saw some of the landmark highlights and missed others because of the fog during the marathon :(.

The one part about the trip that was a little abnormal was my travel to JFK for my JFK-Hong Kong flight. The earliest flight out of Rochester that would have allowed me to make the JFK flight had only been on-time 50% of the time. When it was late, it would have left me less than 45 minutes to get off the plane, switch terminals, clear security, and get to my gate. While that could happen on good days, the JFK flight sometimes left early which made it be a little tighter. Not only that, with the weather in Rochester, the flight could be canceled or so late it would have caused me to miss the other flight altogether. That would have really messed things up! So, that left me to drive to JFK.

I had a free car certificate so it only cost me the $37 in gas and some tolls to do the drive. It did make me leave at 10PM the night before. It would figure, I had terrible driving weather on the way down. I had to go quite slow in some areas. The only good part about doing that is I did not sleep that night. How is that good? 🙂 Well, it allowed me to fall asleep right after take-off on the flight which put me on the right time for sleeping when I arrived in Dubai (because of the time-zone difference). Obviously, car rides aren’t that exciting, but that was the first segment!

Tomorrow, we will start the serious part of the Dubai Marathon trip report. I hope you will enjoy it! I will be covering the different ways I booked the flights and earned the miles and points as we go.


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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.