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Pay For A Marathon With Miles!

Written by Charlie

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.

Pay For A Marathon With Miles

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!).

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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.