Just a bit over three weeks ago, I finished my 6 marathon distance runs on 6 continents in under 5 days. It took a lot of training and planning to get to that point – but it also took a ton of support from many people as well!
One of the things that made that trip possible was miles and points. To help show more people what is possible with miles and points, I booked the entire journey using only miles and points for the travel redemptions (and $210 for taxes and fees). Not only was it cheaper than most domestic tickets to travel around the world, but it was also all done in business/first class cabins! Definitely a great, relaxing way to fly!
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The 6 Continent Tour – Looking At The Numbers And Cost
There are a number of posts coming (like reviews of the hotels I was at, the airline reviews, the city reviews, etc), but I wanted to lead them off with the numbers of this 6 continent tour.
22,238 Miles Flown
Map generated by the
Great Circle Mapper –
copyright © Karl L. Swartz
The amount of miles I actually flew for this event (not counting the miles to return to Greece) came in at a total of 22,238 miles over the course of this event. That is just shy of the entire circumference of the world so quite a distance to cover! I have covered more than this in the past when I used to do some more serious mileage running (trips for the purpose of earning miles) but this included touching down on 6 continents and running on each of them, so quite a few miles!
Cost: 195,000 Miles Spent + $209
To make this trip around the world touching and running on 6 continents cost me a total of 195,000 miles. This was the amount required to fly in first or business class on the entire trip. It was actually just 87,500 more miles than it would have cost me to fly the whole thing in economy, so not a bad redemption at all! This included flights like the incredible 15 hours I spent aboard Etihad’s First Apartment on their A380 and flying one of the world’s sparsest routes of Sydney to Santiago aboard LAN’s business class on their 787 and other airlines as well. Not a bad redemption![table “” not found /]
4 Credit Cards
Of course, the best way to earn miles and points the fastest is using credit card sign-up bonuses. That is how I got the miles for this trip. And, it only took 4 credit cards to do it! Here are the 4 credit cards and the miles earned plus the spending required to do it:[table “” not found /]
United MileagePlus Explorer Card
This card is actually targeted for certain customers at the same 50,000 mile bonus I got. To find out if you are targeted, follow this link and enter your MileagePlus information. If you are not targeted and you receive the smaller 30,000 mile bonus, consider the United Business credit card that has a constant 50,000 bonus miles. You can find that card here.
Citi Executive AAdvantage Card
This had the bonus of the year last year – 100,000 miles with the high $450 annual fee up front but a $200 statement credit as well. That meant it essentially cost $250 for the 100,000 American Airline miles. Counting the spending, I had a total of 110,000 miles from this great card offer. The current offer is 75,000 AA miles but that does not come with the statement credit anymore and does have the $450 annual fee up front.
Alaska Airlines Visa
This card is certainly the easiest airline mileage card to get a bonus on. It only takes the opening of the card account for you to receive the 25,000 miles. Plus, you can apply for this card quite often (I did it every 3 months). Some have applied for several on the same day but there have been reports of Alaska/Bank of America not approving multiple Alaska cards on the same day. The safest method is to simply apply every 3 months or working one of the business cards (which requires you to make a purchase for the points to kick in) into the mix as well. This card does carry an annual fee of $75 up front but also has links for $100 statement credit with $1,000 in spending in 3 months (to get the $100 statement credit offer, go through the steps of booking a flight on Alaska Airlines’ website without actually completing it and you will see the offer near where you would put your credit card information). – Personal Link / Business Link
19 Time Zones – 62 Degrees
Starting in Europe, I headed East passing through every major time zone (sorry, North Korea, no love for your time zone) until I reached the East Coast of the US. Not only that, but as far as temperature goes, I went from 108 degrees in Abu Dhabi to 46 degrees in Santiago, Chile! That drop in temperature happened in just two days as well, so that was something to experience! I can tell you I definitely loved running in the 46 degrees much more then 108 degrees!
6 Marathon Distance Runs – 5:10 / 4:54
I had run the marathon distance (26.2 miles) in each of the continents visited. The times ranged from 4 hours and 35 minutes to 6 hours and 8 minutes. Of course, that was my total time – since I did not stop the watch along the way, that included my searches for water stops and bathrooms. So, if we look at the moving time, that is a bit faster (but not as quick as it should be since it counted no movement at all – so basically using the bathroom or filling my water pack). It gave me a whole new level of appreciate for the volunteers at actual marathon races who always ensure that water is handed to the runners and we never have to worry about road safety! Thank you to all who volunteer!
Here is how it broke down:
- Thessaloniki, Greece – 4:45 total time | 4:38 moving time
- Cairo, Egypt – 5:13 total time | 4:55 moving time
- Abu Dhabi, UAE – 4:57 total time | 4:49 moving time
- Sydney, Australia – 5:22 total time | 5:04 moving time
- Santiago, Chile – 4:35 total time | 4:30 moving time
- Washington, DC – 6:09 total time | 5:38 moving time
My averages for the entire event were 5 hours and 10 minutes for average marathon run total time and 4 hours and 54 minutes for average marathon run moving time.
157.2 Miles – 16,692 Calories
The total amount run in all 6 runs was 157.2 miles. That was in just under 5 days – certainly the most I have ever run in that short timeframe (though not nearly close to what some of the great ultra runners do in their adventure runs!). Running that amount at the pace I did allowed me to burn 16,692 calories in those 5 days, or just over 2,700 calories per run.
As for my heart rate, only in Abu Dhabi and Thessaloniki did my average heart rate get above 140 beats per minute. That is quite a bit less than when I am racing a marathon! In fact, in Santiago, my average heart rate for the distance was only 129bpm! That is quite low for me!