He survived 69 days trapped in a Chilean mine, but Edison Pena isn’t taking it for granted that he can pound out the New York City Marathon’s 26.2 miles.
He’s just thankful can participate in Sunday’s race.
“It’s a dream come true. My first dream come true was to see the light of day again,” said Pena, speaking to reporters Thursday in Central Park.
Pena, one of 33 miners rescued just three weeks ago, said he kept his sanity during his underground ordeal by jogging three to six miles regularly.
“I was running to show that I wasn’t just waiting around, that I was an active participant in my own salvation,” said the 34-year-old Santiago native. “I wanted God to see that I really wanted to live.”
He said he modified his knee-high miner’s boots, cutting them down to make them comfortable to run it, and wore his helmet and headlamp to light the way through the mine’s dark, winding shafts.
He also had Elvis’ music — sent down to him in the mine — to keep him going. Pena is such a fanatic that he belted out a couple lines of the King’s “Return to Sender” for reporters Thursday.
Pena, who has limited competitive experience and calls himself an “amateur” runner, estimated he could finish the marathon in six hours. But don’t begrudge him if he doesn’t, he said.
“I want the media to promise that they’re not going to rip me apart in their stories if I can’t stand the pain in my knee,” he said through an interpreter.
Pena also said he and his “brother miners” are humbled by the attention they’ve received.
“People say that we’re heroes but I don’t think we are,” he said. “It’s just what destiny had in store for us, and now here we are.”