Multiple Marathon Monday – European Edition

Marathon Maniac Monday
Written by Charlie

Welcome to a new series – Multiple Marathon MondayThis series is intended to help the current and potential marathon maniacs out there in the planning and traveling of your series of marathons. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Multiple Marathon Monday – Fall European Edition

Running multiple marathons in a limited amount of time can be a lot of fun. For one thing, it helps to remove the pressure of running a personal best every marathon! For another, it allows you to experience the rush of marathoning twice (or more) in a short amount of time rather than having to wait the typical 18 weeks.

Running a marathon in a foreign country can be a very enjoyable and enlightening experience. As all marathoners know, you get to see a lot of a city in a short amount of time so it can be a great way to experience a foreign city since many of the good international marathons make the route go by the city’s highlights and landmarks that you would want to see anyway.

Now, how about combining the two experiences? What about running multiple marathons in foreign countries on the same trip! True, you will be soar, but this is more than likely a vacation so you have plenty of relaxation time in between! True, trying to organize and work out the logistics of an experience like this could be daunting, so welcome to this week’s Multiple MarathonMonday – Fall European Edition!

Begin Planning

Unless you have weeks of vacation saved up that you are able to use all in one shot, I am going to assume that your trip abroad would be around 2 1/2 weeks long or less. Because of that, we will try to plan our international marathon maniac trip to be within three weeks. Also, we want to be able to experience two countries on our trip, so I will select marathons in various countries. These posts will be organized by continent and have the marathons listed and how to get there. Here we go!

European Fall Option

Frankfurt Marathon / Athens Marathon

Frankfurt Marathon

I figured for our first marathon option, we could hit two great European marathons. Frankfurt is known to be a very fast marathon and Germany’s oldest marathon. In 2011, the course record was lowered to 2:03:42, just 4 seconds shy of the world record. That same year, 14 runners went under 2:10. Over 15,000 runners participate in the Frankfurt Marathon and the course goes by many iconic sites throughout the city. The homestretch lays out the red carpet for the runners (literally). The Frankfurt Marathon takes place October 27, 2013 (the 2014 edition will be held on October 26). Here are some of the details about the marathon.

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Photo from Frankfurt Marathon website

  • Website
  • Cost: Cost ranges from €55 (for runners in the EU signing up before June 30) to €100 (for runners from outside the EU signing up at the last minute)
  •  Date: October 27
  • Temp: 50° – 58°
  • Reviews: Marathon Guide

Athens Marathon

Athens is the great patriarch of marathons. The course is recognized as being the original marathon course and the same course as the 2004 Olympic Marathon. Athens is a marathon that many runners aspire to running at some point. Athens is loaded with history and is a course which any runner would be sure to never forget running. Athens is not going to be the same type of fast course as Frankfurt, but it is split up into three parts – 1) somewhat flat 2) hilly 3) downhill. Athens has over 10,000 runners participate annually. To add even more history to the event, the finish line takes place in a stadium that is on the site of ancient stadium – how’s that for history!

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The Itinerary

Picking two major European cities makes it easy to get hit both of these cities. All three alliances have airlines that service these two cities. So, it is really no trouble to get to these cities. Let’s break down the possible itineraries by airline with the New York City area as our starting point (it is impossible to cover all airports but using NYC airports as our starting point allows us to take advantage of all the airline alliances).

American Airlines

While British Airways (partner of American Airlines) does fly to all cities concerned, there is no availability on the Frankfurt – Athens segment (which would involve a layover in London anyway). So, for our American Airlines segment, we will just do NYC – Frankfurt / Athens – NYC and find a paid ticket for the Frankfurt – Athens portion. Believe it or not, that actually works out to be cheaper than having is as an award ticket due to the high taxes and fees assessed on UK flights! There is some good news and bad news – good news is that this time falls within American Airlines promo period so it only costs 40,000 miles, the bad news is that since the flights go through London the taxes are very high! Here is a possible itinerary:

Marathon Maniac Monday

Marathon Maniac Monday

For the flight from Frankfurt to Athens, you could fly Aegean Airlines non-stop for $114.

American Airlines Summary:

So, it would cost 40,000 AA miles and $825 to hit both of these marathons. To be honest, I would not use AA miles for a trip like this. While it is nice to use only 40,000 miles, the tax of $711 on the award ticket comes close to the ticket cost of $900 without miles. That means, that you could buy a ticket outright and not use miles for $900 (NYC-Frankfurt/Athens-NYC). So, if you were to use your AA miles, you would be getting a value of only $.05 per miles – a horrible value for AA miles! Save them for something else!

Delta Airlines

Delta has many options as well since Air France, Alitalia, KLM (to name the big ones) are all partners of Delta. The problem is that it can be difficult sometimes to use Delta’s award calendar and booking engine. There will be times that you will need to call in to have the flight ticketed because of errors received on the website. This type of itinerary might be one of those. As with the American Airlines itinerary, it may be best to purchase the ticket for Frankfurt to Athens outright as Delta’s partners flights all involve long layovers so that it would take over a day to reach Athens from Frankfurt. Here is a potential itinerary:

Marathon Maniac Monday

The above flight is showing revenue class but can be obtained by calling Delta and ticketing as an award

The above itinerary would take 60,000 Skymiles and $100 in taxes and fees.

Delta Summary

The Delta option is definitely a better one than American Airlines. Delta Skymiles are quite easy to come by so you can easily get the miles required for this ticket. Due to Delta’s poor award booking system, you will likely need to call Delta to get the flight ticketed but it is still a good value.


United Airlines

For itineraries such as this (multi-European cities), United is normally the best airline to go with for award tickets. In this case, especially, United would be the airline of choice to ticket your award travel with given that both Frankfurt and Athens are hubs for Star Alliance airlines (Frankfurt – Lufthansa / Athens – Aegean). In addition, the award calendar availability is awesome! There are so many options and their are many non-stop routings.

Marathon Maniac Monday

This option, as well as many others from United, cost 60,000 MileagePlus miles and $191 in taxes/fees. The availability is wide-open and the options are plentiful.

United Airlines Summary

I would definitely choose to book my award travel for this marathon maniac itinerary with United due to the availability, the ability to ticket the whole trip on one itinerary, and the number of non-stop options. It is quite easy to get United miles since Ultimate Reward points transfer to United at 1:1.

US Airways
You can use US Airways miles to book the same ticket as you would with United Airline miles but you will have to call in to ticket it. Call 800-428-4322 to ticket it. (please be aware that there is a ticketing charge of $50 for Europe. There is also a charge to ticket over the phone but you can have that waived by telling the agent that you were unable to ticket the award online and that is why you needed to call in.)



Frankfurt and Athens will prove to be great running experiences for you! In between the marathons, there is a lot of Europe that you can enjoy if you choose to not spend all of your time in just the two cities. There are many different hotel options available throughout Europe. A good hotel chain to consider for your stays in Europe would be the Club Carlson hotels. I have written before about the tremendous value afforded by the Club Carlson credit cards. Read up on it here.


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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.