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Travel To LA To Watch The Best US Marathoners Race The 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials!

Olympic Marathon Trials
Written by Charlie

The 2016 Olympic Marathon trials are coming up! Here is some information about how you can watch the USA’s best marathon runners in person – and do it with almost free travel as well!

Next year is a year that many runners look forward to – the year of the Summer Olympics! As a marathoner now, I take great interest in both the track events and, of course, the marathon. Before my entering the world of running, I actually really didn’t care about watching running and never figured it to be much of a spectator sport. But, now that I know what goes into it and what it feels like to race, I really enjoy watching races.

The 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials

Olympic Marathon Trials

Want to attend the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials? Find out about it here! | From the race website

Thankfully for the US, we have enjoyed a great depth of marathoning talent over the last few Olympics. The times of US marathoners have dropped quite a bit over the years and probably really kicked off with Olympic efforts in 2004 when Meb Keflezighi came in second for the silver medal in Athens. In fact, Meb was the one who returned near the front of the pack in London in 2012 with a fantastic 4th place finish.

The trials have really been something to watch as the best of US marathon talent lined up – not everyone that toes the Olympic Trials time is there for entry into the Olympics (which goes to the top 3 runners). Many of them know they have no chance in beating the fastest Americans at the marathon distance ever, but they know there is also no better race to try for their PR (personal record) than the Olympic Trials! Talk about fast pacers!

The 2016b Olympic Marathon Trials

For 2016, there have been 158 men who have qualified to run in the Olympics Trial Marathon and 186 women that have qualified. You can see the lists of who is qualified and their rankings here – men | women. A coach that I have used in the past (and will hopefully use again soon) is ranked at 24 – Mike Morgan. Kind of cool to have a coach that ranks so well!

Not everyone on the list will be racing that day as some of them may strategize to run in other road races where their American competition will not be as stiff (as a result of so many running in the Trials). But, certainly most of the best US marathoners will be out that day racing their best for their goals to be realized.

Watching The 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials In Person

Olympic Marathon Trials

The course for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials

The great thing about watching marathons is that it doesn’t cost anything to watch! Not only that, but depending on the course they publish, you will see the runners at least a few times without having to go to far. Of course, if you wanted, you could put on your running shoes that day and race to as many of the observation points as possible to catch as many glimpses of these runners as you can. Not only that, but the marathon trials this Olympic year are being held in Los Angeles – who wouldn’t want to head to  LA in the wintertime to take in such a running event!


The 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials will take place on February 13, 2016. The race will begin at 10AM and will include a course that has a 2 mile loop followed by four 6 mile loops. This ensures that you will be able to spot these runners at least 4 times, but more like 8 times with some walking between points. That should be a lot of fun to watch these runners and see how the race unfolds during your observation points!

Organized Viewing

The LA Olympic Marathon Trials team has put together a page with “cheer zones” – places where you can gather within more organized viewing/cheering positions. To see those, head to this page.


Of course, if you want a more hands-on approach, you can choose to volunteer for this marathon. You can fill out the form to receive more details about volunteering at this page here. If there was ever a race that you wanted to choose to volunteer at, this could be the one!

VIP Packages

Finally, if you really wanted the best seats in the house, they are selling “VIP Hospitality” packages for $150. This guarantees you the following – “Attendees will have access to bleachers along the Start/Finish straightaway as well as entry into the Race Hospitality Tent which includes a catered breakfast and hosted bar. The race broadcast will also be shown inside the Tent ensuring that you don’t miss a minute of the action.” This VIP space is located at Gil Lindsay Plaza and you can get more info/sign-up here.

Travel To Watch – With Miles & Points

If you need miles or points in the programs below, please check out the links on this page for credit cards with offers for each carrier/hotel.

Now the good part – you can travel to watch this great race (really races since it is the women and the men in separate races) for almost nothing! Los Angeles is a great place to fly into as they are served by every airline in the US. Using your airline miles, you can get there with some great schedules and really decent award availability.


If you are located on the West Coast, your best (and cheapest) options will be using Southwest points or British Airways Avios. If you are within 650 miles of LA and American Airlines or Alaska Airlines has a non-stop flight from your airport to LA, then  Avios will get you there for only 4,500 Avios one way. To read more about how easy it is to get these points (which you most likely already have access to!) and how to book those flights, check out this post.


Depending on where you are departing from, Southwest Airlines could be the cheapest option for you. They have a lot of flights out west so you would likely get to pick the time that works best for you and still get it at a good rate of points. Southwest points are among the easiest airline currencies to obtain since they have several of their own cards that give 50,000 points quite often and they can also be transferred from Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 value.

The Others

With Alaska, American, Delta, and United, you will be paying the more standard 12,500 miles one way – most of the time. If you have miles with any of those programs, make sure you check as they can have some unadvertised (sometimes advertised) sales less than that amount. If you are within 700 miles, United will only charge you 10,000 miles for that one way flight.

JetBlue is also an option but, like Southwest, the points are tied to the cost of the ticket. Unfortunately, without a new JetBlue card in place, there is not currently a card that you can sign up for to earn JetBlue points easily so I would take a pass with them unless you already have a stash.


Here is the fun part! Los Angeles has an abundance of chain hotels and some really nice ones! For the purpose of this post, I will just select hotels to feature here that I believe are the best picks for the location of the course as well as the programs. There are some other options as well but they are not available that weekend (the LA Marathon is the next day).

Olympic Marathon Trials

The Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown | from the hotel’s website

Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown

  • Requires 10,000 Starpoints per night
  • Located .8 mile from the finish viewing area
  • From $339 per night

Westin Bonaventure – SPG

  • Requires 12,000 Starpoints for the weekend nights
  • Located 1 mile from the finish viewing area
  • From $269 per night
  • 6,000 points + $110 for Cash & Points

Doubletree by Hilton Downtown – Hilton

  • Requires 50,000 points per night
  • Located 1.9 miles from the finish viewing area
  • From $239 per night

Hilton Checkers – Hilton

  • Requires 60,000 points per night
  • Located 1.1 miles from the finish viewing area
  • From $319 per night

Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Midtown – Club Carlson

  • Requires 44,000 points per night
  • Located 1.7 miles from the finish viewing area
  • From $199 per night
  • 10,000 points + $149 for Points + Cash


I only wish I could attend and watch the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials! That it is taking place in Los Angeles and the day before the actual LA Marathon as well should be enough to draw a lot of runners or those that love the sport to Los Angeles this coming February. No matter where you are in the US, you can get there and stay there – in great proximity – for next to nothing using miles and points. Hopefully this post helps to point you in the right direction.

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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.