It has been 6 months since I booked my first flight for “Run-the-World” and just over 2 weeks before I depart my home in Las Vegas and fly to my first destination, Ulan Bator, Mongolia. If everything goes well, 4 weeks and 4 days later I will finish my last 4 mile run in London. I have already had a number of people ask me a question that I expect to hear many times in the coming weeks – “How did you pick the destinations?”
Although I did not have a formal strategic plan, a few criteria did guide my scheduling:
1. Cost and availability of flights
In order to create a route through 44 countries, I started with a creative approach to using frequent flyer miles. Since airlines price their reward travel flights based only on the origin and destination “region”, I selected cities that were not on common routes and required multiple connections. For example, to get from Morocco to Iceland, I will have stopovers(runs) in Portugal, Switzerland and Norway – and just be charged the award miles required for a North Africa to Europe flight. I then linked the complicated reward travel itineraries with flights on a number of budget airlines. However, my work scheduling flights continues to be challenged by changes in the airline schedules and I have had to make multiple changes to my initial route - adding and deleting countries over the past few months.
2. Cities and countries that I have not visited in the past
I have been to over 80 countries in my lifetime and the excitement of visiting “new” countries led me to schedule a route through many of the countries that I have not yet seen previously. My current schedule will take me to 22 “new” countries. However, there are also some of my favorite places from past travels on my itinerary. Here are a few photos of my family and I in some of these places...
|Liechtenstein - I am fascinated by tiny countries|
|Turkey - I can't wait to eat the food again|
|Portugal - It will be my first visit to Lisbon, but I have dreamed of retiring in the Algarve|
3. An opportunity to meet specific groups/people
During my journey, I am looking forward to seeing family and old friends, including…
|Family in Malaysia|
|Friends in Germany|
I am also excited to make new friends through my many meetings with those affected by, and supporting those with, Parkinson’s Disease. At the same time, I regret that there are so many others that I won’t meet. I want to highlight two such groups. Up until a couple weeks ago I planned to meet with members of patient support groups in Jakarta and Addis Ababa. However, because I wasn’t able to arrange a couple transit visas along the way, I had to rearrange my route and now will not get to stop in Indonesia or Ethiopia. I invite everyone to visit the following Facebook pages below, to find out a little bit about these groups:
4. Specific tourist sites.
A number of stops on my itinerary are wonderful tourist destinations, for example the beaches of Fiji and Maldives. In addition, visiting the New Wonders of the World – Petra and (honorary candidate) Great Pyramid of Giza – will add to the list of those I have already seen…
|Great Wall of China|
However, I am perhaps most excited to run part of the Olympic marathon courses and see the former Olympic stadiums in Beijing, Tokyo, Melbourne, and Helsinki. I have often dreamed of being an Olympic athlete and have a bucket list to visit all of the Summer Olympic stadiums. After my travels, I will only have 3 stadiums left on the list.
|Site of ancient Olympics|
|Site of first modern Olympics|
|Olympic Games - 1996|
Thanks to everyone for supporting me as I plan this journey. I look forward to staying in touch as I “Run-the-World”