By Nicole Blades
Special to Page 2
Trying to pin Sean "P. Diddy" Combs down for even Five Lukewarm Questions is like running a marathon of your own. The hip-hop entrepreneur announced back in September that he would be running in the 33rd annual New York Marathon with a goal of raising $1 million for the kids of New York. The mission, dubbed "Diddy Runs The City," kicked into high gear over the last two weeks as Combs set forth on a path of passion and a mad media blitz.
Jerry Lewis, take note.
The money, to be divided evenly among the Children's Hope Foundation, Daddy's House Social Programs and the public schools of New York City, came from a motley crew of supporters. Gotham's Mayor Bloomberg came up with $10,000 "out of my pocket" (umm, instead of the taxpayers' pockets, Mike?), Yankee Derek Jeter tossed in $20,000, actor Bruce Willis offered $50,000, and celebrity Siamese power twin Bennifer anted up $78 large.
Nike, one of his sponsors (Pepsi was the other), held a $500-a-plate fundraiser dinner the night before the race, with Wyclef Jean performing for the packed house. Prize items were auctioned off -- an autographed iBook from Sarah Jessica Parker, a signed microphone from rapper Jay-Z, a blinged-out watch from Jacob the Jeweler. When it was all said and done, Diddy had doubled his goal. He raised $2 million for the kids.
Running on a bum right knee (tendonitis), an aerodynamic Mohawk hair cut (inspired by Angelina Jolie's son, he said) and customized Nike running shoes complete with a "PD" logo, Diddy -- a.k.a. No.30972 -- crossed the finish line in Central Park in an official time of 4:14.54.
Short of suiting up and running along next to him, tape recorder in hand, I wasn't going to have enough time with him to get through 10 Burning Questions. So I did the next best thing: I caught hold of Diddy's Nike Dri-Fit jersey to ask him a few quick ones; and -- as you'll see -- I supplemented them with queries to one of his new peers in the marathon game.
Right now, my focus is just children. Being a fighter for children ... that's something that's given me the most excitement, hoping to have a positive effect on lives and, really, to change the world. I want to put it out there; I want to change the world. It's a big statement, but overall I want to change the world to the positive.
2. Notorious B.I.G. predicted way back on 1998's "Victory" that it was going to go down when he said, "Kiss rings when you meet us/ P. Diddy runs the city, show no pity." Now it's your turn for some predictions.
Whoa, I'm gonna go with these Chiefs, man. I think these boys deserve it. I don't think they deserve to make a run like this and not go all the way. I'm gonna go with the Chiefs.
3. NBA Championship?
I'm gonna go with the Kings. Yeah, Sacramento, I think there's a lot of hype around L.A. and I'm going against the grain and going with the Kings.
4. Kobe trial?
5. What was the hardest part about training for this marathon?
Changing my lifestyle. Cutting off the drinking, the sex ... and just running. I'm not a person who runs or likes to run. I've never been like, "Yeah, I just want to go out and run 10 miles." So learning how to do that [was the hardest part]. It's affected me spiritually. It's affected me as far as opening my eyes to certain things about myself.
6. The race is over. What's the first thing you do, aside from rest?
I gotta do Oprah [Winfrey's show]. So I have to get up at, like, 4 a.m. to fly to Chicago to be on Oprah.
7. Your birthday is coming up Tuesday, is there a big bash in the works?
I don't think there's going to be a big party, but I'm going to celebrate. I'm going to celebrate where I'm at in my life, you know what I'm sayin'. This is definitely going to be one of my best birthdays without all the hoopla, because it's a birthday where I feel the most comfortable with myself as a person.
(At this point, a PR woman and handlers usher P. Diddy along, signaling the end of the interview. I will not get to ask him the big-finish question: If he is Frank Sinatra in the new-school Rat Pack, then who is Sammy Davis, Jr.? However, Paul Tergat of Kenya, the world record holder in the marathon, is still signing pictures and graciously answering questions. I sidle up next to the stellar runner to get his take on things. A bright idea, indeed.
Seriously, the way he's doing his first marathon, he's not going to destroy himself.
9. How do you prepare yourself mentally for running 26.2 miles?
My first marathon, I just wanted to finish ... I was looking forward to just finishing, and I was very happy when I finished in second [place], 2:08.
10. What's the first thing you do after running a marathon?
A marathon is very humbling. At the end of the race, I was so humble I wasn't even able to put on my shoes. The next day, of course, you have soreness, pain, muscles hurt. I'm expecting P. Diddy to be knocked out for at least a few days.