By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 31, 2003 01:00 PM

Raising money for needy children, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs finished Sunday’s 26.2-mile ING New York City Marathon with an official time of 4 hours, 14 minutes and 54 seconds, despite complaining of leg cramps for about half the distance.

“I’ve never experienced mental or physical pain like that,” Combs, 33, told reporters after becoming the 11,359th to cross the Central Park finish line out of 35,100 entrants. “But it was a beautiful experience.”

Combs said he raised $2 million for New York’s public schools, children suffering from HIV and AIDS, and his own charity to promote social programs, according to published reports.

The day before the marathon, the New York Post revealed some of his celebrity backers, who included Ben Affleck (who kicked in $52,000), Bruce Willis ($50,000), Jennifer Lopez and Jamie Foxx ($26,000 each), Jay-Z ($25,000), Ashton Kutcher, Jacob the Jeweler and Chris Rock ($20,000 each) and Mayor Mike Bloomberg ($10,000).

During the run, he had undercover police officers assigned as bodyguards, reports Reuters.

“I was in real trouble and I wanted to stop. It was a life changing experience because I did not stop,” said Combs, who ran the marathon, his first, under his proper name.

He said his goals were to finish under four hours and faster than Oprah Winfrey’s 1994 U.S. Marine Corps marathon time of 4 hours, 29 minutes.

(He also said he would appear on “Oprah” Monday, when he is expected to address last week’s claims that his $50 Sean John sweatshirts are produced in a Honduran sweatshop.)

As for the marathon winners, Martin Lel of Kenya took the men’s race and his compatriot Margaret Okayo won the women’s race.

Lel clocked in at 2 hours, 10 minutes and 30 seconds, while Okayo’s time was 2 hours, 22 minutes and 31 seconds.