Destinations Marathons

One Week From My Trip – And Still No Visa!

Iran Marathon
Written by Charlie

It is hard to plan on a trip that is one week away when there is still no visa to be had! Yet, that is where I am – for a marathon trip at that!


I can be a fairly spontaneous traveler. There have been times that I had to get ready to leave for an international trip just hours before departure and I typically travel light so not a problem. But, when I have a different kind of trip, especially one involving a marathon, and I still don’t know if I am going one week before – that is hard!

One Week From My Trip – No Visa Yet!

I am signed up to run the inaugural Tehran Marathon one week from this Friday. I submitted all my paperwork to the company organizing the marathon a couple of months ago – within the timeline they had given. Then, it was just waiting and training to see if I would be approved. Of course, a lot has happened since I signed up as it concerns Iran and the US but organizers were still very hopeful that the Americans’ visas would be approved given it was an athletic event and Iran had been approving visas for sporting events.

As of early March, we were informed that we should know by March 21 (the Iranian New Year) if our visas were approved. Ok, that was cutting it a little close considering that I need to make 2 trips to the Iranian Embassy (one to drop the passport off and one to pick it up) but still manageable.

However, the New Year’s holiday came and still no answer! Last week, we were told that hopefully we should have an answer by tomorrow, March 29. That is just 9 days before the actual marathon but just 7 days from the beginning of the trip package. That is cutting it close!

No Visa Makes For Difficult Planning!

Embassy Trip

Part of what makes that difficult is still the two trips to the Iranian Embassy – not such an easy thing when you literally have to get a ticket a few hours before departing to head to the embassy and then reorganize your day. But, the really difficult part has to do with the ticket to Iran.

Trip Tickets

See, the company said not to book the ticket before hearing of an approval and award availability had never opened up on the flight I needed (or else I would definitely have booked it as an award). On the visa form, I had to put the flight I would arrive on and depart on. The problem with that is the flight I needed to book to connect with the arriving flight has now booked up and is no longer available. And, the flight that I put down as my arrival flight is also almost full! Uh oh!

At this point, I am fine with it either way. I really, really want to go as you only can do an inaugural once (and I guarantee it would make an interesting post!) but I also have other things now on my plate for next week that I would need to move aside if I am approved. It is kind of difficult to not know at this point so we shall see.

I feel really bad for the other 27 Americans on the list. I would imagine some of them are actually departing from the US and that is really difficult not knowing if you are making this long journey one week (or less!) before your departure!


Anyway, we shall see! I am hoping it works out but I do not have a lot of hope in that at this point. The fun part is treating the marathon as if I am actually running while also trying to figure out some other marathon I might be able to do in the coming weeks if this falls through. That is the tough part, too!

What is the closest to a trip that you took before you received a visa approval?

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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.


  • I departed for Saudi Arabia 1 day *before* I received my visa. LAX-LHR then went to the Saudi embassy in London for a same-day visa before continuing to JED.

  • I got my DRC visa 3 days before my flight.
    BTW, for some reason I think you are a dual citizen of another country (Greece?). If so, why didn’t you use that passport to apply for the Iranian visa?
    Good luck!!! When I applied for the Iranian visa alongside a tour, I followed all protocols but received the visa approval 1 week after the tour started (all my bookings were done by points so fees were low.)

    • Joey, nope, only US! I am in Greece, though, so at least getting to the embassy is easy enough!
      So you weren’t able to join the tour or you did go?

  • Good luck, Charlie. I tried to go to Iran late last year, but didn’t get my visa approval in time, so I switched my flights to visit Lebanon and Cyprus instead (highly recommended destinations, by the way). I eventually got approved, but due to the holidays I was unable to fly to DC to pick up the visa before it expired. I was in the middle of the reapplication process earlier this year when the US travel ban was announced. Shortly thereafter the tour company emailed me the bad news.

    • Aw, that’s too bad! Cool that you repurposed your trip and visited some other interesting locations! Hopefully, I will have good news tomorrow! Thanks for the wishes!