Sometimes a story grabs your heart and wrings it out into a puddle of blood. Such is the story of Gianclaudio P. Marengo, the 30-year-old Italian who wandered the streets of New York City for two days after the marathon in his running gear.

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Marengo is a recovering drug addict who had trained for months to travel to New York to complete the marathon with his team of seven other runners from the San Patrignano addiction rehabilitation center.

Marengo, who wore number 23781 which was registered to the group’s medic Antonio Boschini, doesn’t speak any English and had in his pack a subway map, his Queens hotel key card, and food. Although he ran some of the race with a partner, Boschini told the New York Times that Marengo was the least athletic of the group and ended up becoming separated from his partner and finished the race alone, at 3:03 p.m.

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He couldn’t find his team, so he looked in his pack to wend his way home. The map and the hotel key had gone missing. So he stayed in the park, missing a dinner reservation and prompting his companions to call the police.

On Monday morning, Marengo went to John F. Kennedy International Airport to meet the group for the flight home, but security thought he was homeless and made him leave. Being unable to protest, he boarded the subway without a destination.

The Times reports:

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On Tuesday morning, Officer Man Yam, 43, boarded the No. 2 train, heading for work in Lower Manhattan.

He was reading a Daily News article about a missing runner on his phone, when he lost reception as the train reached the 34th Street-Penn Station stop around 6:40 a.m.

“I got a seat and, literally, he is sitting across from me,” Officer Yam said. “It hit me right away based on his mannerism and what he looked like.”

The man, his lips dry and trembling, was “looking left, looking right, looking left, looking right,” the officer said. “He kept turning and looking to the map. He seemed like he was under duress, like he happened to be lost or not knowing where he was going.”

Yam identified himself as police, bought Marengo a coffee and a glazed doughnut, and brought him to the hospital. On Tuesday night, Boschini finally picked him up for a flight home.

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“I was just doing what any person, man or woman, whether in my department or not, would do,” Yam told the Times. “What mattered the most is he smiled. He realized that he’d been found, he was in good hands.”


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image via Getty.