As a travel/running blogger, I am constantly looking for ways in which runners can travel to races for free (or at least, for less than the cost of the race itself). It really is not that hard to do and I enjoy doing it. I have shown how to travel by car and plane and how to stay in hotels all with points and miles that can be easily obtained. However, the one other part of a trip, specifically marathons, are not normally covered here. Is it possible to pay for a marathon with miles? Yes, it is!
Pay For A Marathon With Miles
I started running marathons in 2007, so I am a Johnny-run-lately to the marathon scene. However, even in my short marathoning history, I have seen marathon fees as low as $35. However, marathon fees are not something that are coming down in price. In fact, they are not even something that are holding steady in price either. They are climbing annually, especially for the large marathons. These marathons are having increased security costs as the cities begin to pass more of that on to the race committees. In light of what happened in Boston, we can expect those prices to continue to rise, at least for the marathons.
So, how does one pay for a marathon with miles? There are a few different ways: 1) You could get a cashback card that gives a cashback bonus instead of miles/points 2) You could use Ultimate Rewards as a statement credit to cover the cost of your race fee, or 3) you could use something like a companion pass for a friend and have him/her cover your race cost. Those are three ways to do it with cards covered so far. I personally would not consider it a very good deal to use #2 – using Ultimate Rewards. One of the worst uses of Ultimate Rewards is as a statement credit as you are using them as 1 cent per mile. However, if you do not have any desire to travel, that could be a good way – after all, you can get 40,000 Ultimate Reward points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred (I do not receive a commission for this link) and that would result in $400! Not bad for a credit card application!
Well, there is what I believe to be an even better deal. Thanks to Kathy @ WillRunForMiles for the post detailing this program.
Flying Blue’s Run and Miles
Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program for KLM and Air France, has a program that allows you to access certain marathons by using your Flying Blue points. It is called Flying Blue’s Run and MilesAlong with the entry to the race, you will also receive a VIP package that gives you snacks and a massage. The cost in points varies according to race and you will have to determine if it is a good value or not. If you have an abundance of Flying Blue points, this could be a good way to use them. These points can be transferred from Membership Rewards (American Express points). I transferred quite a few points last year with both 25% and 35% point transfer bonuses. Now, keep in mind that you can use 25,000 Flying Blue points during promo periods to get from certain US cities to Europe (along with hefty taxes). It is up to you if you decide to use them this way or not.
Here are the races that are currently covered.
Marathon City Date Miles
Rock’n’Roll Madrid Marathon Madrid 04.28.2013 15,000
Rock’n’Roll Madrid Half MarathonMadrid 04.28.2013 10,000
Geneva Marathon for Unicef Geneva 05.05.2013 15,000
Geneva Half Marathon for Unicef Geneva 05.05.2013 10,000
Mizuno Half Marathon Amsterdam 10.20.2013 20,000
Amsterdam 8K marathon Amsterdam 10.20.2013 20,000
Amsterdam Marathon Amsterdam 10.20.2013 25,000
Frankfurt Marathon Frankfurt 10.27.2013 15,000
Venice Marathon Venice 10.27.2013 15,000
Malibu Marathon Malibu 11.10.2013 15,000
Malibu Half Marathon Malibu 11.10.2013 10,000
French Riviera Marathon Nice 11.10.2013 20,000
Some of these races are under $100 USD. I personally would not be redeeming my Flying Blue points for these races, but if the prices of these races keep going up and these rates stay constant, I would think differently. How about you? If you choose one of these races, now you can pay for everything from the time you leave US soil until the time you return for free (minus food!).