A little bit of Chilean inspiration…

One thing I love about exercise, sport (& especially running) is the great tales of people overcoming adversity and rising above it all. Tales of athletes completing gut churning workouts to extract their best performances, or other athletes escaping internal troubles, addictions or even war and famine. It just makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I am so impressed with the strength of character of such amazing people. How do they do it?? After all they are just ordinary people driven to do extraordinary things.

Well the latest (& possibly the greatest) piece of motivation is the story that has come out of a mine in Chile. I’m sure many people have heard snippets of the amazing strength and character of Edison Pena nicknamed ‘the runner’.Edison Pena

While trapped 700m underground in a mine in San Jose, Chile, for 69 days Edison ran between 3-6 miles (approx 5-10km) each day. In tough conditions with average temperatures around 32 degrees and high humidity Edison just put his head down & went for it. Starting with a plan to run 3miles per day, through the half mile of tunnels available to use, Edison ran 3-6 miles most days. It is an amazing testament to the human body to endure such physical & environmental stress and adapt to the conditions.

What impresses me most though, is the great message it sends as to the value of exercise. Edison began to run because he knew how good running was for him. Not necessarily for his cardiovascular fitness or to look good when he was finally rescued, but to keep him sane. Many other runners know these benefits, as exercise releases endorphins helping you feel positive despite challenging situations. The positive mood benefits can help those with depression, high levels of stress, addiction or other challenging situations. And Edison’s situation was about as tough as it gets but he didn’t wallow for 69 days…. he was positive, proactive & set about looking after himself. The example he set is truly inspiring.

New York Road Runners (NYRR) president Mary Wittenberg was so impressed with Edison’s dedication to his running she has invited him to be part of the 2010 New York Marathon on 7th November. With only a few more weeks to prepare I dare say he won’t run it but he may be part of the official party. Its great to see fellow runners recognising such great efforts. I’m lucky enough to be going to NY for the marathon this year so I’ll try to report back any news if Edison does make it up to NY in November.

For me Edison is up there with Emil Zatopek (religiously running hard through any conditions) as one of my heroes of running. He clearly displays all the hallmarks of a true runner; determination, belief, dedication, discipline and yes probably a little bit of craziness. Good on you Edison!!

Next time I’m whinging about the drizzle, the early start or the humid summer weather I’ll be thankful I’m free to go for a run.

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