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Marathon man: Chilean miner finishes 42km New York Marathon

Edison Peña – who trained by running up and down the tunnels at the San Jose mine – finishes in 5 hrs 40 mins.

Edison Peña, flanked by two assistant runners, finishes the New York City Marathon to rapturous applause.
Edison Peña, flanked by two assistant runners, finishes the New York City Marathon to rapturous applause.
Image: Seth Wenig/AP

EDISON PEÑA didn’t train for the New York City marathon like most of its participants do, beginning with gentle jogs through the city’s sprawling suburbs and hoping to work up the stamina that will keep one going the whole way from Staten Island to Central Park.

Instead, Peña trained in the only way available to him: in kilometres of empty underground tunnels at the San Jose mine in Chile, where he and 32 other miners were trapped for seven weeks before being freed in one of the most dramatic escapes of all time.

Less than a month after being returned to freedom, having spent over two months keeping amused by running in the mine’s spiralling underground tunnels with only some sawn-off working boots to wear, Pena crossed the line to rapturous applause in a time of 5 hours, 40 minutes and 51 seconds.

He finished wearing heavy strapping on one knee, and with the aid of  two specially-appointed assistants who were encouraging him not to outdo himself (this was, after all, his first marathon) while trying to make sure that the race’s biggest celebrity attraction was not too crowded by well-wishers.

Race organisers, having heard of how he had occupied himself by running while underground, immediately invited Peña to visit this year’s running of the race, which took place on Sunday. Peña accepted, but on one condition: that he be allowed to participate.

Peña’s time defeated his goal, set before the race, of six hours – though he said he had run faster in the cave, and would have done so on the streets, if he had not succumbed to severe pain in one knee which required him to take a break with seven miles to go and seek some ice packs.

That pain, he said afterward, had almost forced him to withdraw from the race – “But I said to myself, I didn’t come this far, I didn’t travel so many thousands of kilometres, to drop out. So I kept going.”

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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