Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chilean miner runs New York marathon

The 34 year-old, who was the 12th man to be raised to the surface in the Phoenix rescue capsule from deep below the Atacama Desert last month, had been dubbed "the runner" for his gruelling subterranean exercise regime.

The fitness fanatic and Elvis Presley enthusiast 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. "When I ran in the darkness, I was running for life," he 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.

Mr Pena said his goal was to complete the 26.2 mile course within six hours but would have to overcome a knee injury incurred during the 10 weeks trapped underground.

"I could have come just to watch, but I decided to take part, to feel the emotion," he said ahead of Sunday's race.

"I have a strong desire to motivate the others. This is the most important thing for me.

"I have an injured knee from down there (in the mine), but I hope I will be able to finish," he said. "I hope the press will not destroy me if I can't stand the pain in the knee."

On arrival in New York 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.


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