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African runners win NYC marathon; Chilean miner takes limelight

By the CNN Wire Staff
Ethiopian Gebre Gebremarian won the 2010 New York City Marathon with a time of 2:08:14.
Ethiopian Gebre Gebremarian won the 2010 New York City Marathon with a time of 2:08:14.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gebre Gebremarian of Ethiopia won the men's category in the 2010 NYC marathon
  • Edna Kiplagat, from Kenya, won the women's race
  • But a Chilean miner proved to be one of the main attractions of the race
  • Edison Pena ran daily during his captivity in the mine

New York (CNN) -- Two African runners won the 2010 New York City Marathon Sunday, marathon officials announced.

Runners Edna Kiplagat, from Kenya, and Gebre Gebremarian, of Ethiopia were the first female and male finishers to cover the 26.2-mile course that cuts through New York City's five boroughs.

Having just won first prize in the 2010 Los Angeles marathon, Kiplagat was the first woman to finish the race coming first in 2 hours and 28 minutes.

Gebremarian, the fastest man in the race, crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 8 minutes.

Much of the celebrity limelight in the usually star-studded race was focused on a man whose fame derived from his sprints inside the gloomy pit of a Chilean mine.

Chilean miner Edison Pena -- one of 33 miners trapped underground for more than two months before they were rescued -- completed the New York Marathon Sunday, taking five hours and 40 minutes to cover the 26.2-mile course.

Pena, otherwise known as "the runner" by fellow miners who spent 69 days trapped with him in a gold and copper mine, set out to cover the course along with thousands of other runners..

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During a press conference after the race, Pena said running the marathon was a way to cope with the trauma of being trapped and fearing for his life.

"What I did today was also a symbol of bravery and a struggle against myself against the pain that I have been feeling. This I want to make very clear," he said.

With appearances on David Letterman, where he showed his devotion for Elvis Presley amid applause, Pena attracted attention from nearly every press outlet and every street fan who held signs while he ran the marathon.

"The experience was wonderful," said Pena. "I am not from this country but I kept seeing signs that said 'Go Edison'...and people would say 'Let's go Pena'...the warmth of the north American people is amazing," said Pena.

Pena -- a triathlete -- was invited by the NYC Marathon after stories spread about his daily runs in the mine to keep himself fit.

"When I ran, I thought I was going to beat destiny," he said. "I told the mine, 'I'm gonna outrun you. I'm gonna run till you're tired and bored of me.'"

The 12th miner to be rescued, he also became known for singing Elvis songs during his confinement.

Star-gazing part of the experience of watching some 45,000 runners in the marathon. Actress Katie Holmes, rapper entrepreneur P-Diddy, rocker Alanis Morissette, former Gov. Mike Huckabee and TV chef Bobby Flay have all competed in the marathon.

The NYC Marathon is one of the most popualr marathons in the world, drawing more than 100,000 applicants annually.