Barry Jackson

Marlins’ Samson, Hill, Conine primed for remarkable undertaking

Miami Marlins president David Samson talks during end-of-year press conference at Marlins Park on Wed., Oct. 5, 2016 in Miami.
Miami Marlins president David Samson talks during end-of-year press conference at Marlins Park on Wed., Oct. 5, 2016 in Miami.

Running one marathon is grueling enough.

But seven in seven days?

And each one on a different continent?

That’s the almost unfathomably demanding challenge that Marlins president David Samson will undertake with 15 others next winter, when they run 183.4 miles (the standard 26.2 miles per marathon) to benefit 11 charities.

The group will fly by charter to run marathons in Novo, Antarctica; Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Madrid, Spain; Barranquilla, Colombia; and Miami beginning next Jan. 30 and ending Feb. 5.

All proceeds from donations will go to charitable causes.

“Only 54 people have ever done seven marathons in seven days on seven continents,” Samson said. “It’s an extraordinary thing.”

Samson, in 2006, competed in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii - a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.22-mile run – but said competing in the fourth annual World Marathon Challenge will be a far more daunting test.

“Most grueling thing I’ve done,” Samson, 49, said. “The Ironman was 15 hours in a row, with no flying involved. The hardest thing is getting off an 11-hour flight and land and start running a marathon. Exhaustion will come over seven days, both mental and physical fatigue.”

The Marlins will have a significant presence on Samson’s team, which includes former Marlins outfielder and team executive Jeff Conine; Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president/baseball operations and P.J. Loyello, senior vice president/communications and broadcasting and equipment manager John Silverman.

There are several interesting stories on Samson’s team. There’s Paralympian triathlete Sarah Reinersten, who will become the first single amputee to participate in the event. Reinersten, 42, was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, a bone-growth disorder; her left leg was amputated above the knee at age seven.

There’s Sarah Lacina, a 33-year-old police officer who met Samson in the Philippines when both competed in the 2014 installment of the CBS series Survivor. A third Survivor alum, Mikayla Wingle, also is a member of Samson’s team.

There’s Bret Parker, a friend of Samson’s who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

And there’s Cara Nelson, a teacher from East Hampton, New York.

“I literally met her in the jungle in Peru,” said Samson, who at the time was on a trip to see Machu Picchu, an Incan citadel in the Andes Mountains.

Nelson plans to do live remotes from the races and teach her students about each country and continent.

Samson’s appropriate name for his marathon team: Hold The Plane.

Samson said there will be virtually no time to rest up in hotels.

“There is one hour in one hotel,” he said. “It’s eight hours to finish every marathon. You generally shower at the finish line and go back on the plane and fly to the next place.”

The longest plane flight: 13 hours, 15 minutes from Cape Town to Perth.

“Everybody I spoke to said, ‘You’re crazy, you can’t do it,’” Samson said. “And then of course, they want to do it with me. I’ve always been attracted to seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but this one may take the cake.”

All proceeds from charitable donations will go to the Marlins Foundation, Camp Interlaken JCC, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Jewish Federation of Broward County, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, the ALS Association, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of America, Martin Richard Foundation, Conine Clubhouse and Stand Up to Cancer.

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