Sunday, November 7, 2010
. . . June
Chilean miner's latest amazing feat ... the New York marathon
World news | The Guardian:
Edison Pena was greeted by cheers and a media whirlwind during first trip abroad to take part in 26-mile event
It is, quite simply, the classic plot of every fish-out-of-water film, hitting all of the cliches along the way with the enthusiasm of a 1980s comedy: the unlikely outsider arrives in New York, after some initial translation difficulties the city falls gleefully in love with this eccentric newcomer, he then accomplishes some incredible feat, the city cheers, cue end credits, over a rendition of – in this particular case – Elvis.
Ever since Edison Pena, one of the 33 miners who had been trapped underground in Chile for 69 days, arrived in New York on Thursday on his first trip abroad to run the New York Marathon – which he ran today – this Crocodile Dundee with a pickaxe has been on the kind of high-profile media tour that would make Paris Hilton envious.
He appeared on The David Letterman Show, did the breakfast TV rounds, gave newspaper interviews, hosted packed press conferences and – truly confirming that Chilean miners are this year's A-list celebrities – has been pursued through the city by that most tabloid of gossip websites, tmz.com, which more often devotes its time to ascertaining what that white blotch in Lindsay Lohan's nose might be as she leaves an LA nightclub than the antics of a cheerful 34-year-old miner.
Rather than shielding his face, or throwing coffee, as is the usual interaction between celebrities and tmz.com paps, Pena made a good-hearted giggle at the journalist's attempts to speak Spanish. Even tmz.com was charmed: "Chilean Miner – Blinded by Terrible Spanish", was the website's uncharacteristically good natured headline.
When Pena emerged from the mine on 13 October, the 12th man to be hauled up, there was a hint of future celebrity potential when he said that he had entertained his fellow miners by singing Elvis Presley songs.
After it transpired that Pena had also maintained his daily runs in the mine, Mary Wittenberg, CEO of New York Road Runners, the organisation behind the marathon, invited Pena to New York to watch the marathon. Already showing the diva quality of a future star, Pena retorted that simply wasn't good enough: he wanted to run in it.
In New York, he has proved the perfect celebrity storm, combining an extraordinary back story, endearing humility, infectious excitement and natural extroversion. (Just as he once entertained his fellow miners with Return to Sender and Suspicious Minds, so he has been entertaining the whole of New York with his spontaneous Presley homages, making them a tradition for every TV appearance and press conference.
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