Perdita Felicien knows all about traveling at high speeds. The former world champion in the 100 metre hurdles and multiple medalist at both the indoor and outdoor world championships still holds the Canadian record in 100 metre hurdles with a time of 12.46 seconds that she ran in 2004.

Now retired, the 33-year-old from Pickering wants to embrace one of her other passions: international air travel. Having been an avid reward miles collector throughout her athletics career, Felicien has plenty of options when it comes to planning her future trips.

“I first started collecting points when I made the Olympic team in 2000,” says Felicien. “I was 19 and hadn’t really left North America before and we were going from Toronto to Christchurch, New Zealand, and then onto Sydney.”

It was the Olympic team manager who instructed her to sign up for reward miles. “I signed up for miles, and I haven’t looked back since,” she says.

“I signed up for miles, and I haven’t looked back since."

Clocking up the miles

Felicien estimates that during her athletics career she was accumulating at least 100,000 miles a year. Her grueling schedule would see Felicien away from home from the end of January until the end of September, flying from event to event all over the world.

“You have one month off, usually October, and then you’re back on the grind and even when you’re not competing, in November and December you’re still at international training camps,” explains Felicien. “The life of an athlete means being away from your family, on the road, most of the time.”

Felicien noticed that people would be envious of what they perceived to be her glamorous, jet-setter lifestyle — but nothing could be further from the truth. She may have visited over 40 countries during her career, but there was rarely the chance to see the sights — it was a regimented routine that consisted of the track and the hotel.

“That’s why it’s really important for me now to go back and see some of these places where I had really great experiences, where I won medals,” she says. “I’m really excited to explore these places on my own, as opposed to being on an athlete’s schedule.”

“Collecting miles has allowed me to have a balanced and measured look at humanity and has really encouraged me personally to be a global citizen.”

Seeing the world

Collecting reward miles has played a big part in Felicien’s life, allowing her the freedom to do things that she wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. This year she flew to Sydney using her miles and spent a couple of weeks there.  She’s currently in Turks and Caicos relaxing after retirement, reflecting on a successful career. Next year, she has a month-long European tour planned.

“One of the things that I really try to share is that you don’t know what life is really like until you get outside of your own back door,” says Felicien. “Collecting miles has allowed me to have a balanced and measured look at humanity and has really encouraged me personally to be a global citizen.”

"To make those highs and lows worth something, I need to share my story and hopefully inspire and motivate kids who are going through the same things that I did.”

Onwards and upwards

In her early teen years she suffered a crushing loss of confidence and refused to race for two years. It was only her mother’s persistent encouragement — or ‘nagging’ as Felicien puts it — that got her back on the track.

She now draws from her own experience, using her miles to fly and give motivational speeches to Canadian school children, with the hope that she can possibly inspire one or two future medalists and record holders.

“I don’t want this 13 years of racing and competing, the highs and the lows, to be in vain,” says Felicien. “To make those highs and lows worth something, I need to share my story and hopefully inspire and motivate kids who are going through the same things that I did.”


Joe Rosengarten
editorial@mediaplanet.com