Marathon record-holder Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie is running his first NYC marathon later Sunday in the hopes of adding the classic to his considerable collection of medals. Unfortunately, the 16th mile of the New York City Marathon was the last step of Haile Gebrselassie’s storied career.
The world-record holder announced his retirement after dropping out of the race on a day that signaled the rise of a new Ethiopian star. Countryman Gebre Gebremariam won the men’s title in his marathon debut.
But Gebre Gebremariam is doing so in the shadow of a man who has never run a marathon and has a knee injury – Chilean miner Edison Pena, who kept fit for two months underground by running 5-10 kilometres through the tunnels.
A Chilean miner ran, walked and hobbled his way to the finish line of the New York City Marathon, showing the determination that helped him survive more than two months trapped underground.
Edison Pena needed bags of ice for his knees as he made his way over the 26.2-mile course Sunday. Mr Pena hobbled his way over the finish line in Central Park at 3.30pm, five hours and 50 minutes after beginning the race in Staten Island.
The 34-year-old was among the 33 miners rescued last month after spending 69 days entombed 2,300 feet underground by a cave-in. An avid runner, he jogged several miles every day through tunnels.
The fitness fanatic jogged in his heavy miners’ boots for several miles each day of his ordeal through dark uneven tunnels finding his footing by the light of his miner’s lamp.
A Chilean miner who jogged miles underground while waiting to be rescued joined some of the world’s best marathoners and thousands of other runners in the New York City Marathon on Sunday.
“When I ran in the darkness, I was running for life,” Elvis Presley enthusiast explained. “I wanted to show God that I wanted to live. I was saying to the mine, I’m going to run until you’re just bored and tired of me, and I did it.”
He was invited to participate in the challenge through the streets of Manhattan by organisers who were inspired by his drive and stamina.
Edison Pena started off in Staten Island at 9:40 a.m., hoping to cover the 26.2-mile-course through the city’s five boroughs in six hours. About an hour into the run, a grimace crossed his face as he slowed a bit.
But cheered on by spectators, he kept running and by shortly after noon, “The Runner” – as his fellow miners had nicknamed him – had covered the route in Brooklyn and made his way into Queens, about 15 miles of the race.
An Unsmiling Pena, wearing an official New York Marathon cap and with his left knee bound in black, kept up a steady pace while surrounded by supporters.
“First, I want to run this marathon, but secondly, I’d like to motivate those people who aren’t running the marathon to do so in the future,” he said before the race through a translator, jumping up and down to warm up. “I also want to especially motivate young children and youth to run because running makes you free.”
The 34-year-old was among the 33 miners rescued last month after spending 69 days trapped 2,300 feet underground by a cave-in. An avid runner, he jogged several miles every day through tunnels.
He had cut his steel-tipped electrician’s boots down to ankle height so he could train each morning and afternoon along the rocky, muddy 1,000-yard corridor where the men were trapped in stifling heat and humidity.
He built up strength by dragging a large wooden pallet that was attached to a cord tied to his waist.
Pena, runner No. 7127, joined about 45,000 runners from 50 states and more than 100 countries, all looking to cross the finish line in Central Park. It is his first trip outside of Chile.
The most Pena ever ran in the mine was 6 or 7 miles a day – sometimes singing Elvis Presley songs in-between. Pena says he ran to clear his head, to push away his anxiety. He always kept his faith, he said. “I always had faith to keep fighting, to stand up to things, to do what could be done.”
On arrival in New York City on Thursday he was a guest on The Late Show hosted by David Letterman, where with gyrating hips and quivering lip the miner won over the audience with his own rendition of Elvis’s “Suspicious Minds”.
He will visit Graceland, Presley’s mansion in Memphis, Tennessee and will make a trip to Las Vegas to see “Viva Elvis,” a Cirque du Soleil show, before flying home to Chile. [via Daily Telegraph (UK), Huffington Post and WCYB]