Edison Peņa - A Runner At Heart
Peņa Steals Show In Battle Of Celebrities At 2010 ING New York City Marathon
November 7, 2010
The Chilean miner that ran while trapped underground, Edison Peņa, didn't travel thousands of miles to New York to drop out of the marathon. Peņa, who was invited by the New York Road Runners to be a special guest - and then to their shock said he wanted to run the race - showed some of the grit that he and his fellow miners displayed while stuck in the mine, as he overcame a knee injury to finish the race in 5:40:51.
Now, LetsRun.com is a website that is dedicated to celebrating elite achievement in the sport of distance running and never before have we praised a 5:40 marathon but in our minds, Peņa, the seventh Chilean miner to be rescued, is a true running hero and a runner at heart.
First of all, the fact of the matter is anyone that would run underground is truly a runner at heart. But Peņa proved that once again on Sunday, as he didn't just want to finish a marathon - he wanted to run it as fast as possible.
We absolutely loved Peņa's opening statement at the post-race press conference. In a day and age when it seems that so many people view a charity runner finishing in six hours as being little different than an elite running 2:05, it was refreshing to hear Peņa say the following in his opening statement:
First of all I want to say that I would have run faster and I did
run faster in the mine. I was telling my companions, my guards that if it wasn't for the pain in my knee, I would have done a better time. But nonetheless, I kept going on. I kept on keeping on even walking, but I kept walking.
They well know that I iced my knee twice. I did run over the finish line. There is no doubt about that. But here the whole idea was to finish, and it was to run and to do as good a job as I possibly could. Why? Because I wanted to motivate the world to practice sports and, you know, I did not withdraw from this race. I kept going on. I didn't even entertain the option of withdrawing from this race. No way.
I came to the U.S. to run this marathon and I did it.
Later, Peņa did an amazing job of explaining to the Chinese media why he traveled thousands of miles to run a marathon, as apparently many people in China didn't get why he'd do something like this:
I'm here because I want people to feel free. I want them to strive for their own freedom. That's why it was worthwhile for me to come this far to run a marathon, because I want to motivate people. I want to convince
them that they can do what they set out to do in life. That they can do
In this marathon I struggled. I struggled with myself, I struggled with my own pain, but I made it to the finish line. I want to motivate other people to also find the courage and strength to transcend their own pain.
NYRR head Mary Wittenberg's introductory statement also was incredibly well put, as she (like us, we might add) realized how Peņa has a natural competitive spirit that is truly exceptional:
There is ordinary and there is extraordinary, and this is an extraordinary story, an extraordinary man who tries very hard to act ordinary. But I don't think we've ever seen anything like this.
The heart and the soul that Edison displayed three weeks ago probably is something that only comes from divine inspiration. I can't even put in perspective the significance of putting himself right back into a challenging situation, and the man never, ever doubted that he was going
to run this thing.
Do you know how many people train for a year to finish the marathon in 5:40? And his first comment when he crossed the line, "I would have been faster if not for my knee." Not if not for lack of training. I think we've just seen the best story in running I think I've ever seen.
Peņa's run proved that he just isn't a man who is good with the press. He is a runner at heart.
His 5:40 finishing time is incredibly misleading as his knee injury, which almost caused him to drop out at mile 18, severely limited him in the second half (and it probably didn't help that he didn't do real marathon training for this race). Peņa ran his first half in 2:07:34 (9:43 mile pace). At mile 17, he was still running 10:16 pace. But his final nine miles were a struggle, as none were faster than 15:54 (his last mile was the fastest) - so basically he was walking.
One more thing about Peņa's run - we want to give a big Thumbs Up to Juan Jesus Lopez. Lopez was one of Peņa's two escorts for the race and is certainly a guy that blue collar runners, whom we love to praise at LRC, can be proud of. Lopez is the ultimate blue collar guy, as he agreed to run the race on two days notice. Secondly, he had to leave the post-race press conference after the first question because even though the world's media was waiting to talk to him, he had to be at work at 4 pm. As Lopez said himself, "I work on 123rd Street and Frederick Douglas Avenue. And I also have a second job on 51st Street. I'm a hard-working man."
The Other Celebrities - The Amateurs
There were a number of other names in the race who weren't professional runners. Once Peņa's entry was confirmed, there was a popular debate on our message boards as to who would finish first - Peņa or Jared Fogle of Subway fame: Who wins in NY Jared (subway) or the Chilean Miner? Fogle ended up finishing ahead of Peņa, as his finishing time was 5:13:28 but Peņa was way, way ahead at halfway - almost 18 minutes.
Runner - 1st Half/Finish
Fogle - 2:25:21/5:13:28
Peņa - 2:07:34/5:40:51
The Pros - Gimelstob Wins $10,000 And Beats Amani Toomer
Two former professional athletes also ran New York. Former tennis pro Justin Gimelstob ran and won a $10,000 bet with Andy Roddick that he would finish in under 4:45 (the money is being donated to charity), as Gimelstob ran 4:09:58. See Justin Gimelstob Gets $10,000 If He Runs 4:45 Or Better In NYC for background info on the bet.
Gimelstob's credible 4:09:58 was slightly better than former New York Giant Amani Toomer's 4:13:45. We gotta admit Toomer's idea to start at the back of the field and then get $1 donated to charity by Timex for every runner he passed was a very good one.
By the way, if you haven't seen Peņa on David Letterman, please watch the embedded video below the top as the guy is a natural star.