A man from Italy spent two days lost in New York City after finishing the marathon on Sunday before he was eventually found riding the subway confused, dehydrated, and still in his running gear.
Gianclaudio P. Marengo, who speaks only Italian, was separated from his group after he crossed the finish line in Central Park on Sunday, police said.
When members of his fellow running group — all Italians visiting the city from the San Patrignano drug rehabilitation center on the Adriatic Coast — failed to locate him after the 26.2-mile race on Sunday afternoon, they called their country's consulate in the city, which in turn called the police.
In a statement, staff at the rehabilitation center denied Marengo, 30, had mental health problems or had been on medication when he disappeared.
"He is certainly a fragile person, vulnerable, and very emotional," clinic staff said, noting it was his first time visiting New York City.
The runners had been staying in a Queens hotel, but clinic staff said that during the race Marengo had lost a note he had been carrying detailing how to catch the subway back to their accommodation.
"For this reason when he had reached the finish line he did not know where to go, deciding to remain in the area hoping to meet someone whom he knew," rehabilitation center staff said.
After eating a slice of pizza, he spent the night sleeping on the streets, then travelled by train on Monday to John F. Kennedy International Airport to try to meet his fellow runners who were due to fly back to Italy.
“He stayed at the airport and waited,” Antonio Boschini, the group's medic, told the New York Times. “But they thought he looked homeless so they kicked him out.”
Lost, confused, and unable to communicate with anyone around him, Marengo returned to Manhattan and spent a second night sleeping on the streets, still dressed in his running apparel.
As word of the runner's disappearance began to make news in the city's media, New York Police Department Officer Man Yam was riding the No. 2 train and read a New York Daily News article about Marengo.
“I got a seat and, literally, he is sitting across from me,” Yam told the Times. “It hit me right away based on his mannerism and what he looked like.”
The officer said Marengo appeared to be trembling.
“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 said.
Yam identified himself as a police officer by showing Marengo his badge and took the Italian with him off the train, before buying him him a doughnut and coffee.
“I was just doing what any person, man or woman, whether in my department or not, would do,” Yam said. “What mattered the most is he smiled. He realized that he’d been found — he was in good hands.”
The clinic said Marengo was in good health, but was hospitalized for minor dehydration.
Boschini visited his friend in hospital and the pair were due to take a direct flight back to Milan.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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