MILWAUKEE – Mitch Moser never even considered himself a jogger, let alone a long-distance runner.
A product liability attorney, the longest Moser had ever run was three miles when in August of 2016 he decided to explore the sport as a way of getting into shape.
Little did he know that by the end of his foray into the sport he would end up running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, participating in the World Marathon Challenge.
As part of the effort he helped raise funds for nearly a dozen nonprofit organizations, including the Steve and Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC, which has been part of Moser’s life for 40 years.
How Moser got there has everything to do with his longtime friend, and fellow Camp Interlaken alum David Samson. The president of the Miami Marlins from 2002 to 2017, Samson has competed in the Ironman World Championship, and was even a contestant on the TV show “Survivor.”
So when Moser got the idea to start running it made sense to reach out to the avid athlete.
Since the pair had attended Interlaken for roughly a dozen years as children and teens, Moser didn’t flinch when Samson suggested he begin training for a four-day race in Miami in January 2017.
‘Hold the Plane’
What Moser didn’t know was that Samson was using the race, which asks participants to complete a 5k, 10k, half-marathon and full marathon, as a training run for the marathon challenge.
What he also didn’t know is that Samson had secretly signed him up to participate in the challenge.
A year later, on Jan. 29, Moser would find himself with 15 other teammates – all fellow friends of Samson – sitting at an airport in South Africa, about to run more than 180 miles in the span of a week.
“We had eight hours to complete each marathon, and then jump on a plane to get to the next marathon,” Moser explained. “We all met in Cape Town and took a plane to run a marathon at a Russian military base (in Novo, Antarctica). Then we flew five hours back to Capetown and ran a marathon there. We headed back to the airport, where we caught a plane to Perth, Australia and ran another marathon.”
After Perth, the jetsetters flew to and participated in marathons in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Lisbon, Portugal, and Cartagena, Columbia before heading back to Miami where the team, aptly-named Hold the Plane, completed their seventh and final marathon of the challenge.
Pride and amazement
Looking back at the experience now, Moser is amazed by what he and his fellow teammates were able to do.
“When I started the training schedule, I figured I would do it until I hurt something,” he said. “I didn’t hurt something. Once your mind believes you can run a marathon, you start thinking you could run a couple marathons, or even seven in seven days, no matter how crazy that seems.”
And even though it isn’t exactly how he would schedule a world tour, Moser feels lucky to have been able to share the adventure with his teammates.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “Your body can do incredible things.”
Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, shares Moser and his teammates’ pride.
“We are incredibly proud of Mitch, Dr. Debra Carneol, David Samson and the entire Hold the Plane 777 Marathon team for successfully completing this awe-inspiring World Marathon Challenge,” Shaprio said. “We are touched by their substantial and meaningful contribution to the Steve and Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC to ensure the future of our camp and allow us to continue our mission of providing an incomparable Jewish summer experience for campers and staff. This was an amazing accomplishment by team Hold the Plane and we are humbled and blessed by their generosity.”