All eyes were on. It wasn't easy but he finished in less than six hours, beating his own goal.
CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports for Pena the journey to the finish line of the New York City Marathon began long before race day. Three months ago in Chile, Pena and 32 other miners found themselves trapped after their mine collapsed a half-mile below the earth's surface.
In the blackness underground in stifling 86-degree heat, Pena began running six, seven miles some days to live.
"I was running to show that I wasn't just waiting around," says Pena through a translator. "I was running to be an active participant in my own salvation."
Salvation came 69 days after the accident and with it international fame for the 33 miracle miners. Pena - miner number 12 - emerged in good health, his life forever changed.
With Pena's newfound fame came an invitation to watch the New York City Marathon but the amateur runner didn't want to stand on the sidelines. Instead he wanted to join the 43,000 other runners at the starting line on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
"I was very eager to take on this challenge, wanted to show the world I could run it," says Pena through a translator.
He remains humble about his ordeal in the mine. "People say we are heroes but I don't think we are. It's just what destiny had in store for us," he says.
Destiny now presents new opportunities. He appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman" and showed off his love of Elvis Presley, the music he listened to during his runs in the mine.
His trip to New York included a visit to the Empire State building to take in the view 1,000 feet up and a world away from life underground.
His next stop is Graceland to accept an invitation for a private tour of Presley's home.
It's the running Pena hopes people remember. "The message here is that I found a way to run," he says. "I didn't say, 'I can't.' No, I tried and I succeeded and I did it.
A man once trapped is now triumphant, again.