After 26.2 miles, maybe his new nickname should be Tough Daddy. Running on a bum right knee and just two months of training, hip-hop entrepreneur Sean “P. Diddy” Combs completed the New York City Marathon on Sunday in 4 hours, 14 minutes.
The producer-rapper, formerly known as Puff Daddy and Puffy, decided in September he would run his first marathon in a bid to raise $1 million for children.
As he crossed the finish line in Central Park, Combs raised his arms in triumph. He took a few more steps, then leaned over to catch his breath. Bags of ice were placed on his neck.
Combs — known on the course simply as No. 30,972 — kept a respectable pace of an eight- to nine-minute miles for much of the race. He ran in sunglasses, his hair in a closely cropped mohawk and a breathing strip across his nose. He was accompanied by police officers and at least one of his employees.
“I feel great. I feel strong,” Combs told NBC Sports during the race’s first hour. “We’re right on pace. I’m not going to go out too hard. I’m going to finish strong.”
He ran into trouble as the race went on, troubled by cramps that caused him to walk a few steps, as well as by fans closing around him.
Combs planned to divide the money he raised among two children’s advocate groups and the city public school system. He dubbed the effort, “Diddy Runs the City.”
Among his donors: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pitched in $10,000; rapper Jay-Z, who gave $25,000; and gossip-column regulars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, who gave a combined $78,000.
Combs cut himself a difficult challenge by deciding eight weeks ago to enter the race. He shed about 15 pounds in training and developed severe tendinitis in his right knee.
“It’s going to be rough,” he said before the race. “But if we get through it, it’s telling those kids and everybody else to finish what you start, and you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Others in the field of more than 30,000 entrants were running for their own reasons, or to make their own statements.
A delegation of seven disabled police officers and soldiers from Colombia, most of them wounded in combat, were running the race together.
A 92-year-old man, Fauja Singh, was trying to break his own record for 90-and-over marathoners of 5 hours, 40 minutes, 44 seconds. Singh was running as a guest of a Sikh community in Queens, hoping to raise awareness of the faith.
The mayor stayed out of the race but cheered runners from the starting line.
“It’s what makes America great,” he said. “We have our young men and women around the world fighting to protect freedom and tragically dying, and this is a way in some sense to say, ‘This is what we’re fighting for.”’