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Chilean miner fights to finish line

A Chilean miner ran, walked and hobbled his way to the finish line of the New York City Marathon, showing the grit that helped him survive more than two months trapped underground.

Edison Pena crossed the Central Park finish line at 3.24pm local time, with a time of 5 hours, 40 minutes, 51 seconds. He was draped in a Chilean flag as Elvis music played over the speakers.

The 34-year-old survivor had beat his own goal - to complete the course through the city's five boroughs in six hours.

Bags of ice covered his swollen knees as a grim-faced Pena covered the last part of the 26.2-mile course.

"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 starting. "I also want to especially motivate young children and youth to run because running makes you free."

Pena's personal victory came just weeks after he was still training in near-darkness, jogging each day 2,300 feet underground in stifling heat and humidity. He and 32 other men survived 69 days in the caved-in mine.

He said running was his salvation - his way of proving how much he wanted to live.

On a sunny day in Manhattan, the strong will that kept him focused came shining through. It didn't seem to matter to the world whether Number 7127 actually finished the race running into Central Park - or ended his first marathon barely making it. To the wildly cheering crowds, he was already a winner among the 45,000 runners, including some of the world's best marathon runners.

Pena has not competed in years as an amateur runner. And since the rescue, he covered only 6.5 miles as part of a triathlon team event in Chile on October 24.

On Sunday, he again was doing what he could, moving step by step, painfully, toward the Central Park finish line. And as he put it before leaving Chile for New York, he now faced "a new challenge - to care more deeply, to be more present with the people we love."


From Belfast Telegraph