Joshua Cohen, president of the TMA Connecticut Chapter, ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days recently in the 2018 World Marathon Challenge.
Cohen was part of a 16-person group that called itself “Team Hold the Plane,” whose members raised more than $1 million for 11 organizations that included the ALS Association, Stand Up to Cancer, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation. The races started in Antarctica January 30 and ended in Miami February 5.
Cohen and the other 49 participants in the World Marathon Challenge flew from continent to continent to run 26.2 miles every day for a week. The races were held in Novo, Antarctica; Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Lisbon, Portugal; Cartagena, Colombia; and Miami. Though running seven marathons was demanding in its own right, even more challenging was coping with the mental strains of all the traveling and the upset to runners’ biorhythms resulting from crossing 16 time zones in seven days, Cohen said. The grueling schedule forced the runners to eat and sleep at odd times, making it difficult to keep themselves properly fueled and rested.
“By the third day, we didn’t know what day it was or what time it was,” said Cohen, who was a veteran of 16 marathons before embarking on the World Marathon Challenge. “It was a challenge like no other.”
In the first three races, in Antarctica, South Africa, and Australia, Cohen was the first American finisher and fourth overall. In Dubai, he was again the first American to finish, coming in third and recording his fastest time, 3:28. In Portugal, Cohen finished in a five-way tie for second place—the five men had stuck together throughout the race and finished hand-in-hand. He ran through the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia, finishing in a two-way tie for second, and then ran the final marathon in Miami, finishing in another five-way tie, this time for third. After 183.4 miles of racing, Cohen placed fourth overall and was the top American finisher.
Cohen, a partner at Day Pitney LLP in New Haven, Connecticut, and chair of the firm’s Bankruptcy and Restructuring Practice Group, said that being a part of Team Hold the Plane and finishing the seven marathons was one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. He said the idea to take on the World Marathon Challenge came from his brother-in-law, former Florida Marlins President David Samson, who was recruiting a group of runners to raise money for charity.
“I frankly didn’t hesitate,” Cohen said. “As a marathon runner, this was a great challenge, taking it to the next level.”