Chilean miner Edison Peña ran mile after mile wearing his boots and headlamp. He ran up and down pitch-black tunnels. He ran to forget that he and 32 coworkers were trapped half a mile underground. He ran to convince himself he would survive.
``When I ran in the darkness I was running for life,'' he said.
On Sunday, 25 days after he was rescued, Peña will run 26.2 miles in a new pair of running shoes from Staten Island to Central Park in the New York City Marathon. He will run with 43,000 others. He will run to celebrate his survival.
``It's a dream come true,'' he said. ``The first dream come true was to see the light of day again.''
Peña, 34, has never run a marathon, nor had he ever been outside Chile until he arrived in New York on Thursday to the realization that his days digging for copper and gold in dangerous anonymity are truly over. He was greeted by world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie, was scheduled as a guest on The David Letterman Show and was invited to visit Memphis' Graceland, former home of his favorite singer, Elvis Presley.
During a packed marathon news conference, Peña seemed comfortable in the spotlight. He even broke into song.
``I gave a letter to the postman. . . . She wrote upon it: Return to sender, address unknown,'' he sang in a Spanish-accented twang.
He said the first thing he asked for once rescuers were able to drill a supply line down to the miners was an iPod filled with Elvis tunes. ``I thought I would never hear him again,'' he said.
Peña spent 69 days beneath the surface of the Atacama desert at the collapsed San José mine before he and his comrades were lifted out one by one in a capsule during a televised rescue operation that mesmerized the world.
``People say we're heroes, but I don't think we are,'' he said. ``It's just what destiny had in store for us. We had a slim possibility of surviving and we did.''
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