|Taken during my Alaskan Marathon Trip|
Running 39 full marathons in 32 different states so far. I've picked up a few tips for race planning and traveling.People come to me asking for advice to help them plan their own race adventures. So I have begun making lists of DO'S, DONT'S & TIPS based on my own experiences, to help the experienced runner and traveler to the novice contemplating on setting out for their first time.
I am going to break it down into different categories and make a mini weekly blog series on them. This week to start are tips for booking your race and a few travel ideas to help save money and make your traveling race experience the best it can be.
|Taken at the start of my Colorado Trail Marathon|
TIP if running your first marathon, I suggest picking a race that is a marathon only race! As a marathon runner, I find I love these races the BEST! They are all about the 26.2 miles and they know what they are doing, provide the best course support, organization. Additionally you generally you don't find these races stretched too thin for volunteers at the support stations and water stops!
|On my West Virginia Marathon|
** Another tip, late afternoon or evening rental car pick-ups are the best time to get FREE upgrades, because most people arrive late morning or early afternoon and take all the cheaper vehicles then.
DO if you plan on doing a lot of traveling and flying. Pick ONE airline you like best, who has a miles or reward program and stick with them. This will actually save you money in the long run! Personally I love Delta, but that is because of the way I use them. With their skymiles program I can generally get every 5th or 6th ticket free. By always using the same airline I also earned my way into their FREE upgrades programs and generally get upgraded to first class about every other flight. Let me tell you nothing is better when you are sore after 26.2 and you get the free upgrade into first class, that extra leg room to stretch out is simply fabulous!
TIP, if you don't qualify for free upgrades, the emergency exit rows also have a few extra inches of leg room:) (Of course this is on Delta, I would assume the other airline planes are the same, but I can't say for certain so it might be something to ask!)
|On my Hawaii Marathon Trip|
Generally you can get the exact same deals on the actual airline website, and in my experience if you have time to search a little they are occasionally even better!
So when booking a flight, however you do it. Besides taking cost into consideration, make sure you think through all the flight details and layover times first.
|View from Big Sur Marathon|
DO (if you can) fly in a day or two before the actual race. Weather or airline problems are unpredictable and unavoidable at times. So if your flight is cancelled or delayed, you won't be stressing that you're going to miss your race or packet pickup. If you can't do this, I'd suggest taking the earliest morning flight available, so if delays come up you have a better chance getting there in time!
DO check travel sites for hotel deals first, then call the hotel directly. I like to find a great deal on a travel site, then call the hotel directly and ask them if I have to book on the travel site or if they will match the deal. They'll be honest with you, and I think they prefer you booking with them directly so in my experience most of the time they will match a deal or even at times offer one slightly better. If they can't then go ahead with the travel site deal.
DON'T just book a hotel because it's cheap! That is the worst thing you can do!!! They are likely cheap for a reason (because no one wants to stay there). Personally I prefer safety and location, cleanliness, free parking, free wi-fi and free breakfasts over anything else. You can still find a great rate on a nice hotel, it just takes a little searching!
|On my Minnesota Marathon Trip|
DO plan a few things to do and see before or after the race (again, if you can). Whether you go do a little hiking, visit local attractions or set out on a drive to explore. You'll enjoy the trip much more if you do something besides just fly in and out for the race only. I personally like to plan my races near National Parks, Beaches, State Parks and Monuments, Historical Area's and Parks, Mountains and places that look amazing to visit.
As you can see on my blog in the pictures in this post and also if you scroll down a bit on the page to the pictures below, I love to see AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL!!! Makes my race in that state even more special and memorable!
DO (if you can) be flexible with your time on your return flight (if the plane is overbooked) if offered the option to take a later flight for a travel voucher, TAKE IT! Generally you'll only have to wait a few hours, so use the time to eat a good meal, walk around and stretch the sore legs, read a good book... By doing this you'll already have your next airline ticket paid for or discounted and you can start planning your next race trip right away!
|Passing the Alamo on my Texas Marathon|
I could give dozens more tips and information on this subject, but it would just be too long to read. However, some of you may have some race travel tips you feel are pretty important to remember as well (or better:), so please share your own travel tips and suggestions with me and my readers!
Next week's blog I'll give running tips for the race!
Today, I am participating in Jill Conyers Fitness Friday, visit her website www.jillconyers.com to see other fitness articles that may interest you!