Running for his life

David Sameach is ready for the Tel Aviv marathon just two years after he crashed his car at high speed.

David Sameach was driving along the Geha Road around 3 a.m. after a party, when his car hit a security barrier and flew up into the air. (photo credit: Courtesy)
David Sameach was driving along the Geha Road around 3 a.m. after a party, when his car hit a security barrier and flew up into the air.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Running a marathon, or even a half-marathon, is a pretty substantial challenge. While many of us make do with climbing the stairs to our apartments or walking to the car or bus stop, there are some who get out and run 21 or 42 kilometers without a break. That takes not only physical fitness, but the mental toughness to keep moving and not to give in to distracting and dispiriting thoughts.
David Sameach knows all about that. The 31-year-old Sameach, who will be running the 21-km. course in the Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon next Friday, has had his own challenges to overcome.
While he had been keeping himself in reasonable shape, playing soccer with friends, participating in a marathon simply wasn’t on his agenda. But that changed following a serious accident, in which he crashed his car at high speed on his way home from a party just over two years ago.
“I was driving along the Geha Road around three in the morning. I was tired and I must have closed my eyes for a second, and when I opened them, I saw a motorcyclist right in front of me, traveling in the same direction – but I was very close to him,” he recalls.
INSTINCT TOOK over: “I yanked the steering wheel to the right and hit a security barrier. The car flew several meters up into the air – I remember one or two turns in the air. I even remember the song that was playing on the radio. It was ‘Maka Afora’ [‘Gray Blow,’ by Monica Sex]. I’ll never get that song out of my head. I remember the singer sang, ‘We’ll take a room in Tel Aviv,’ and I thought, ‘Yes, let’s do that.’ Talk about a gray blow, I got a big black one, and plenty more with every color under the sun!” he laughs.
It is amazing to see him talk about the incident with a smile on his face. “I remember, after the car landed back on the road, I just got out and took a few deep breaths. The motorcyclist had stopped, and he told me to take it easy and that an ambulance was on the way.”
What followed sounds like something straight out of a Marx Brothers movie.
“The car was in the middle of the road, stood on [its] front with the trunk up in the air, and I sat on the side drinking some water the motorbike guy gave me,” he says. “Then two ambulances arrived. One was Magen David Adom and the other from Zaka, I think, and they argued with each other about who had gotten there first and who was going to take me to the hospital, and all for NIS 500. It was like watching a stand-up comedy. One of them put a plastic neck brace on me, to make sure he claimed me. There I was, lying on a stretcher, and they’re bickering. It was ridiculous and hilarious.”
AT ONE point, he decided to get in on the act himself. “The two ambulance guys are arguing over who’s going to tie me to the stretcher. I was a medic in the army, so I said to them, give me the belt, I’ll tie myself down.”
He eventually made it to a hospital, and after being checked out by a doctor, he was released with no special instructions. At the time, he only felt slight pain, but reality kicked in, big time, after about three or four days.
“I was in a lot of pain and I couldn’t bend or put my shoes on, and sleeping was a problem, too,” he says. After further X-rays and a referral to a physiotherapist, his condition gradually began to improve.
“When I could put my shoe on without pain, that was a real achievement for me,” he says. “I was pretty frustrated with being so limited physically, because I’d always been active, and I used to take life with a pinch of salt.”
By all accounts, it is remarkable that he will be joining the thousands of runners in Tel Aviv next week, pounding his way through the streets of the city. He has clearly come a long way since the accident.
“The thing is that the physical trauma was with me until a few months ago,” he states. “Until six or seven months ago, I simply did not have the ability to move freely. I couldn’t make a sudden movement.”
It was around that time that a pal suggested upping the fitness ante.
“I have a couple of friends – brothers – one is my age and the other is 15 years older than me, and the older one told me that he wanted me to join them [in training] for the Tel Aviv marathon. I told him they could run but I could just about walk.”
Even so, Sameach was determined to get back in shape. He signed up for a gym and eventually began running.
“I think I ran a kilometer the first time, and it took me about 10 minutes,” he recalls. “I carried on with the gym, and I began to increase the distances. I had pain while I was running and at night afterward, but after what I went through in the months after the accident, that was peanuts.”
And now he’s ready to do 21 whole kilometers in Tel Aviv.
“I don’t know how it will go, but I’m optimistic,” he says. “After the accident, I appreciate everything so much more.”