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November 7, 2010

Rene Cuahuizo

Juan Jesus Lopez

Edison Pena

Mary Wittenberg


RICHARD FINN: On the podium here to my right here, to reply left, Juan Jesus Lopez, 34 years from the Bronx who ran, was one of Edison's escorts today. To the far left, René Cuahuizo. Thank you. 27-years-old, of Elmhurst, Long Island. Both are New York Road Runner members. Both members of the West Side Running Club, and both ran the marathon in 2009 and they ran the marathon again this year.
Of course our special guest, Mr. Edison Pena. His time 5 hours, 40 minutes and 51 seconds, 5:40:51: I'd like to introduce Mary Wittenberg to make an opening remark, Mary.
MARY WITTENBERG: 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.
RICHARD FINN: Thank you, Mary. We'll have Edison make a comment.
EDISON PENA: Well, yes, 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.
RICHARD FINN: I'd like a comment from Juan and René about what it was like out there, the crowd, running alongside of Edison.
RENÉ CUAHUIZO: First of all, I'd like to say that it was a tremendous honor and pleasure and satisfaction to run alongside Edison Pena. Yeah, it was really exciting to run the five boroughs with this man and see how people turned out to support him and cheer us all on. It just felt great.
Of course a marathon is a marathon, and we, Juan and I, also were there to support him and to keep his morale up. We know that he was complaining of the pain in his knee, but we knew that we all wanted to finish this race and keep our spirits high so that we could cross the finish line even if it was walking.
MARY WITTENBERG: If I may, if anyone has any questions for Juan, because he's getting concerned because he's supposed to be at work by 4:00 o'clock. So we're going to try to make sure that's okay.
JUAN JESUS LOPEZ: It was a tremendous honor to run alongside Edison Pena. He has the heart of a champion. I'm profoundly moved by having this honor, but also by seeing the support and the cheers from all the people along the route. That about sums it up for me. I'm moved and I think I'll leave it at that.

Q. What kind of work do you do?
MARY WITTENBERG: Do you want to tell them where you're a cook?
JUAN JESUS LOPEZ: 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. I work in publicity and promotions.
EDISON PENA: Apart from holding down two jobs he also runs.
MARY WITTENBERG: On two days' notice.

Q. I wanted to know, a lot of people in China in general didn't understand why as a miner in Chile you would want to fly all the way to New York to run this marathon. Why is it so important to you?
EDISON PENA: 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 it.
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.

Q. What did this race mean to you? Were there times that you thought about dropping out?
EDISON PENA: Yes, I did think about dropping out especially around mile 18 when the pain in my knee was particularly intense. But I said to myself I didn't come this far, I didn't travel so many thousands of kilometers to drop out and so I kept going.

Q. Talk about your experience in the race.
EDISON PENA: The marathon was a marvelous experience. I could have not given this press conference, but I wanted to because I wanted to tell the world that this was a fabulous experience.
I'm not from this country and there were people along the route that had signs that said, "Go, Edison!" I'm not from this country and there were signs that said, "Do It, Pena!" I'm not from this country and people had signs that said, "Go for it!" So it's amazing how warm and welcoming and supportive the Americans are here. I didn't know that, and it's really just been an incredible dream to have lived this afternoon.

Q. We know you didn't really get a chance to fully train for this marathon. You finished it, which is wonderful. Now that you've finished a marathon, are you thinking about doing another? Are you thinking about fully training for a marathon?
EDISON PENA: Yes, I would love to run another marathon. I want to cut down my time. I know I can improve my time, especially if my knees aren't hurting me. I know that's a possibility.

Q. How does it feel to be in the Big Apple surrounded by so many wonderful people, especially other Chileans?
EDISON PENA: Everywhere we ran there were Chileans shouting and cheering for us and waving Chilean flags, and I knew I wasn't going to do a really good time, but I was motivated and encouraged by them, and that helped me to keep going.
MARY WITTENBERG: Can I add I'm not surprised that Edison was surprised by the fans on the course. We started our last press conference by saying he's a runner at heart, and that's what matters to him. I had to drag him up to the start to be part of the start, because I thought it was important. People wanted to see him and welcome him. He just wanted to run. Didn't understand why. He just wanted to run. This is a humble guy.

Q. How would you compare your 5 hours and 40 minutes on the race course to the 69 days you spent trapped in the mine?
EDISON PENA: Well, running a marathon and being trapped in a mine are two very different things. I felt great in the marathon. I felt great with all the support I was getting and it felt good to run. It was great to see so many other people running with me and all together.
Being trapped in the mine was a very different sensation from running a marathon. Furthermore, in the mine, I ran alone.

Q. I wanted to ask sort of specifically about the knees. Did you have knee problems before? When did it start to hurt and how badly did it hurt?
EDISON PENA: I could have come here to watch the marathon instead of running it. I could have just been a special guest, but I wanted to take up the challenge of running and perhaps that was a mistake. But I wanted to show that I could do it. I wanted everybody to know that the pain was preexisting. It didn't just start in the race. I had knee problems prior to the marathon. It's not like I just invented the excuse that my knee was hurting midway through the race. That's not the case at all.
I've had a bad knee for a long, long, long time, and certainly working in the mine didn't make it any better.

Q. I kindly ask you if you could sing some Elvis again for us.
EDISON PENA: Do you want me to dance as well?
MARY WITTENBERG: We just want to thank Angelica and Edison for representing the spirit of this marathon and for joining us for the weekend. You left us inspired.
RICHARD FINN: Thank you.
EDISON PENA: (Singing, imitating Elvis Presley). "You know I can be found, sitting home all alone, if you can't come around, at least please telephone. Don't be cruel to a heart that's true."

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