He flew into Miami late morning Monday from Cartagena, Colombia. He was so pressed for time he began changing clothes while waiting in line at Customs, because, two hours later, he would be running in a marathon. It would be his seventh one, in seven days, on seven continents.
“A whirlwind of epic proportions,” David Samson called his past week, in a bus headed for the big finale race. “An experience of a lifetime.”
Miami Marlins fans know the name well, of course, and likely don’t recall it with the kind thoughts. Samson for 16 years, until the recent ownership change brought his firing, was club president and right-hand man to unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria. But even the most critical of Marlins fans or Loria/Samson haters might be hard-pressed to conjure anything but admiration for the weeklong challenge Samson and his new team completed Monday afternoon in Miami.
It took him around the globe for the World Marathon Challenge: Seven 26.2-mile foot races in one week.
“I’ve always been attracted to seemingly insurmountable obstacles,” said Samson. “This one may have taken the cake.”
Samson’s 16-person “Team Hold The Plane” made up almost one-third of the 56 competitors in this year’s WMC. The team also included two others well-known to Marlins fans: Current president of baseball operations Michael Hill and “Mr. Marlin,” Jeff Conine. With spring training looming, Hill conducted team business by cellphone while on the odyssey. A sponsor paid the $44,000 entry fee for each member of the group, which has raised more than $1 million for a dozen charities though donations. All 16 runners on the team finished every race.
The string of races began in Novo, Antarctica, then continued on to Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Lisbon and Cartagena, Colombia before finishing Monday in Miami. The schedule was grueling, with long flights and little down time. The Cape Town race began only 13 hours after the Antarctica race ended.
“From freezer to oven,” Samson described the Antarctica to Cape Town runs.
After the second marathon: “Can’t walk, toenails falling off,” he wrote on Instagram. “And we’ve only just begun.”
After Dubai: “Soreness and grumpiness are pervasive.”
Samson, who turns 50 on Feb. 26, had run 13 previous marathons. He ran one on this trip in 5 hours 43 minutes, while the less-experienced Hill and Conine ran 6:28 and 7:39, respectively.
“Everyone’s legs are swollen,” he said as he and his team bused to the Miami starting line. “It’s like a M*A*S*H. unit in here.”
Samson was chuckling as he said it. Perhaps delirious with exhaustion. Or maybe just happy to be home.