Tue, Nov 09, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Chile miner crosses finishing line at the New York marathon


Chilean miner Edison Pena crosses the finish line of the New York City Marathon on Sunday.


Proving his point that “yes, you can,” Chilean miner Edison Pena ran the New York City Marathon on Sunday, just weeks after emerging relatively unscathed from two months’ captivity underground with 32 fellow miners.

Pena, one of 43,000 participants in the 42km foot race, was feted as a hero in New York as one of the running world’s most celebrated events got under way.

“I want to show that it can be done,” Pena told reporters on the eve of the fabled event.

Pena, 34, battled a knee injury and some pain, but finished in five hours and 40 minutes, a bit under the six hours he said he expected. In his dark glasses, wearing a knee support because of an injury in the mine, and carrying a Chilean flag, Pena crossed yet another daunting finish line.

Organizers piped in some music by his favorite, Elvis Presley, over loudspeakers and the crowd cheered him on wildly.

Pena said he ran up to 9.7km a day through a series of tunnels in the mine during his 69-day ordeal — an achievement that inspired race director Mary Wittenberg to invite him to compete.

“Runners, New Yorkers, are going to want to celebrate this guy,” Wittenberg said. “It really speaks to what running is, what a stabilizing force it can be for somebody. And to have the strength actually to run during that time in the mine was amazing. So we invited him.”

Pena and his wife traveled to New York at the expense of the New York Road Runners’ Club, which organizes the annual event. His dramatic rescue from the mine was televised worldwide on Oct. 13, more than two months after an August cave-in trapped him and the other mine workers.

“I never thought I would make it to this marathon,” Pena told a packed press conference after arriving in New York ahead of the big race. “I wanted to show that yes, you can.”

Pena’s determination to keep jogging in his work boots and in sweltering temperatures deep underground must make for the most unusual training preparations in the history of the race.

And the man who cheated death and who lives for running had asked not to be criticized if it turned out he could not finish.

“I hope the press will not destroy me if I can’t stand the pain in the knee,” he said.

Upon arriving in New York, he was met at the airport by Ethiopian long-distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie, whose leg injury forced him to pull out of Sunday’s race.

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