This Saturday, June 4, I will be running my first live marathon in 3.5 years! I have run a number of virtual marathon and ultra marathon events since the start of Covid but this will be my first live marathon. Here are my travel plans for it.
My Stockholm Marathon Travel Plans
This is actually the second time I was signed up for the Stockholm Marathon. The last time, I was unable to run it due to horrible allergies/asthma problems during training. It was so bad that I was unable to run 1 mile without stopping to try and catch my breath.
I did my first live race in years this past November, the Thessaloniki Night Half Marathon. I did much better than I had anticipated so I took a somewhat aggressive approach to training for the Stockholm Marathon.
The last marathon I ran was the Tiberius Marathon where I ran my current marathon PR of 3:29. This time, I wanted to do closer to 3:20 but I also did not have a lot of time for training so I chose a training program that would focus more on the workouts to target speed and endurance but a lower overall weekly mileage (last time, I averaged about 67 miles a week for 12 weeks, this time it was about 44 miles a week).
However, thanks to things like food poisoning, a recurring foot injury, and some allergies again, this time I am actually just going to run it for fun with no PR or time goal embedded. I have a time that I think I could hit but we will see. 🙂
My Travel Plans
Pre-Covid, travel plans for a marathon were not a big deal. I mean, I just picked the best schedule/price/award and went for it! But, with summer schedules already becoming a problem and crowded, it was a little more difficult!
I am in Greece and have to be back late Saturday night so that left only one real option. When I had booked my flights, I had booked with a new airline for me, Air Baltic, which left Stockholm late Saturday evening and had a layover in Riga before arriving in Greece in the very early morning hours of Sunday.
The flight option I really wanted had been a non-stop and left at 4PM. While that would work for most marathons, the Stockholm Marathon starts at 12PM so that would not have worked! Fortunately, Air Baltic canceled that flight and SAS changed their own flight to depart at 6PM instead – perfect!
Elite Status Upgrades
For the outbound, I booked with Aegean Airlines. This worked great since it was a nice schedule and it allowed me to use my business class upgrade certificates. Athens to Stockholm is one of the longer flights in the Aegean network, coming in at just under 4 hours, so an upgrade to business class is great.
Honestly, the actual “business class” on inter-European flights is normally nothing to write home about, but Aegean has an excellent meal service in business as well as things like free, fast internet, and, when there is a hard stand (meaning you have to take a bus to the terminal), you get a business-class exclusive bus for quicker transfers.
Lastly, business class blocks the middle seat and means I have more overhead bin space so I have plenty of legroom to stretch out to get ready for the race the next day!
On the hotel side, I had originally booked a Radisson property but then switched to book a Marriott property when I saw that I had a free night certificate that expires next month. When Marriott made it possible to use points on top of a certificate, that worked great!
For this, I applied a suite upgrade (thanks to my Marriott Platinum status) and had that processed so I get a much nicer room than originally booked! Again, it is great to have elite status!
Having Elite Status MAY Just Help Me Make My Flight
Lastly, having elite status may just save the day for me on the return. If you are doing the math, doing a sub-4 hour marathon with a starting time of noon and a flight at 6PM means that I will need to move really quick to get to the airport! Unfortunately, the very quick and efficient Arlanda Express is going on a weekend halt (on the weekend that there are thousands of out-of-towners there for the marathon) due to track upgrades. So, I had to find an alternate means of getting to the airport.
The Stockholm Airport is dealing with staffing issues like many airports so the lines are very long at security. SAS did not have business class on this flight so no priority from that, but since I have Star Alliance Gold, I will have access to priority security lines. This may just make it possible for me to make my flight!
We shall see how it goes on Saturday! I am just happy to be running a live marathon event again! Having elite status certainly has helped to make the whole trip a bit more manageable in this time of packed flights and filled hotels. Will it help me make my flight? We shall see! 🙂