The Marathoner Who Conquered New York

By Gabe Pressman
|  Monday, Nov 8, 2010  |  Updated 5:51 PM EDT
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Images from the 2010 NYC Marathon

Getty Images

Edison Pena (C), one of the recently rescued Chilean miners,poses for photos after completing the 41st ING New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 7, 2010 in New York City.

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He is a hero in his native Chile. He is a hero in New York.

Edison Peña, the Chilean miner who ran in the marathon, is an inspiration. a man who never gives up.

He ran this race without any distance running experience. He was in pain through much of the course. Yet he persisted. He refused to admit defeat.

Pena and New York City definitely have something in common. This city has survived 9/11 and other horrors during its four centuries. Yet it has always come back.

Edison Peña was one of 33 miners trapped underground for 69 days. They were returned to the surface on October 13 after an agonizing ordeal. For 17 days, the world didn’t even know if they were alive.

Peña managed to jog every day inside the copper and gold mine -- loops of three to six miles daily, 2,000 feet underground. It helped keep him in shape but  hardly prepared him for a 26 mile marathon. Several newspapers reported how on Marathon Sunday he managed to run through the first 13 miles in just two hours. But then the knee injured when the mine collapsed began to give out. Ignoring the pain, he stumbled on his way.

Finally, he stopped at a medical tent and had ice packs fastened to his knees. He was in pain but, as he said afterward, he never considered quitting. He told the Post: “I did not withdraw from this race. I didn’t even entertain the option of withdrawing  from this race. No way. I want to motivate other people to also find the courage and strength to get over their pain.”

Peña is a stubborn guy. At a press conference after the race he crooned an Elvis Presley tune. He idolizes the rock legend. And,when he crossed the finish line and embraced his wife, who held a Chilean flag, he could hear the loud speakers blaring an Elvis  song, “The Wonder of You.”

The words were fitting for a romantic soul like Edison:  “I guess I’ll never know the reason why/You love me like you do/That’s the wonder/The wonder of you.”

As the tearful director of the marathon, Mary Wittenberg said:  “I think we’ve just seen the best story in running I’ve ever seen,” reported the New York Times.

It is a great story. And Edison Pena deserves a ticker tape parade or, at least, the key to the city. He is an amazing guy.
 

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