04/27/12 8:37 PM ET
Samson completes 52.4-mile run down coast
Test of endurance honors park workers and helps charities
By Anthony Chiang / MLB.com
"What the workers did to build the ballpark, that was hard," Samson said. "This is just running two marathons. This can be done. But every day they showed up to work, and they built a great ballpark."
That's why Samson, 44, ran the equivalent of back-to-back marathons on Friday -- to honor the workers who built Marlins Park. In the process he also raised $550,000 through sponsor and individual donations, with the money split evenly among 10 charities so that each was guaranteed at least $50,000.
The run began at 7 a.m. ET in Pompano Beach and continued along the coast until it ended at Marlins Park in Little Havana at approximately 6:44 p.m.
Samson received an IV at the 45th mile to help push him through the final stretch, but once he ran through the center-field gates at Marlins Park, he was met with enough support to make all the trouble worth it.
Before the Marlins took on the D-backs, Samson arrived to the applause of some of the workers who spent three years building the park. He then presented each charity with a check during an on-field ceremony.
Samson's running experience helped him along the way, as he had already completed several marathons, and in 2006 he became the first active team president to complete the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
But on Friday it was the support Samson received that got him through the run. Seventeen runners joined him throughout his journey, as the trek was broken into nine five-mile intervals and one 7.4 mile interval -- each dedicated to a charity.
"He has done triathlons and the whole package, so I didn't have much to add," said Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations, who ran the first leg with Samson for the Jewish Federation of Broward County. "We talked about the team a little bit and its struggles, and [how] hopefully we can get things going. But it was just lighthearted."
Another charity represented was the ALS Recovery Fund. Brothers Jose and Albert Perez were two of the three people running with Samson in support of that organization.
The Perez brothers have been raising money for the fund since 1997. They lost their father to the disease in 2001, and Jose lives in the house his father once owned to help keep his memory alive.
"It's incredible what David's doing, because let me tell you, I was exhausted," said Jose, who met Samson through a mutual friend eight years ago. "I'm no marathoner by any stretch of the imagination, but what he's doing is incredible.
"David has been an incredible friend to my brother and I. He has always taken us in as a friend, and we really appreciate all of his help. Not only this year -- he has been supporting us for seven or eight years prior to this race. I can't thank him, and I can't thank the Marlins enough."
Another inspiration for Samson came in the form of Sarah Reinertsen, who had one of her legs amputated when she was 7 years old because of a tissue disorder.
On Friday, Reinertsen ran with Samson to support the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities become active.
"It's so great that he's doing this for charities and helping so many people along the way," Reinertsen said. "But as runners, we're here to help David get through these 52 miles, and that's what really counts. It's great that he has some fresh faces to come in every five miles to keep him going."
The other seven charities involved in the run were Stand Up to Cancer, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The Miami Foundation, Miami Children's Hospital, University of Miami Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and Liga Contra el Cancer.
All of his running partners, as well with some peanut butter sandwiches and a lot of water, helped Samson overcome the sun, fatigue and estimated 8,000 calories he lost.
"I've run marathons, but I've never done this," he said.
Now he has, and for good causes, too.
Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.