*This past Sunday, runDisney held their 26th Annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna at the Walt Disney Resort. As Central Florida’s largest sporting event, it brings together more than 100,000 runners and spectators to the Orlando area.
For the 2019 marathon, 73 countries were represented, and the top three countries with the most participating marathoners hailed from Brazil with 1986 runners, Canada with 1104, and the United Kingdom with 453.
Out of the 15,000 registered runners, athletes from Brazil reigned supreme as two of its citizens; Fredison Costa of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Giovanna Martins of Salto, Brazil, both returning champions reclaimed their crowns by placing first in the male and female divisions.
Costa, 41, who presently lives in Kissimmee and trained for the race at the Walt Disney World Resort, and dealt with many challenges during last year’s race. However, patience, persistence, and perspiration allowed Costa to nab his seventh Disney Marathon victory, leaving him on the heels of fellow countryman Adriano Basto’s record of eight wins.
Top tier runners were averaging 5 minutes and 36 seconds per mile, Costa completed the 26.2 miles and posted a time of 2:18:45, coming close to the race record of 2:11:50, but well ahead of second-place finisher Nick Hilton (2:21:48), the Flagstaff, AZ runner who won the race a year ago, and Jose Lima of Brazil (2:26:40), who was third.
“I’ve been through hard times this year, so it felt great that this was the seventh time I was the winner,” Costa said. “I feel like I’m challenging myself again.”
Giovanna Martins, 36, the toted darling of the race was overwhelmed with emotion when she crossed the finish line. This is her third consecutive year participating in the marathon weekend, Martin clocked in with a finishing time of 2:45:24, her fastest time out of her four past wins. This particular race was the most poignant for her because she overcame a leg and ankle injury that she bore from a previous competition and only had three months to train considering she committed four years to prepare for her first Disney race.
“I wasn’t expecting to be the winner, it was really emotional and a surprise as well,” said Martins through a Disney interpreter.
There has not been another female runner that has achieved the honor of winning the Disney Marathon more than twice, however, Martins is by far the most successful woman that has run the event and claimed her fourth victory in five years. As a devoted Catholic, she attributes her accomplishments to God, as well as, her husband who always supports her, and her rigid training regimen. Although she is an amateur runner, she has the work ethic of a professional; Martins wakes up at 4:00 am each morning to train and the distance she runs per week totals 93-124 miles. Martins practices twice a day while working as a physical education teacher, a physical trainer, and a leading a sports initiative to educate the children of Brazil to participate in sports.
“Every time I see the ‘Where Dreams Come True’ sign [at Walt Disney World Resort], it’s impossible not get emotional,” Martins said. “Running and winning these races at Walt Disney World truly is a dream come true.”
The Walt Disney World Marathon capped an action-packed weekend of races that included a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, runDisney Kids Races, and the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo.
This was the second of four race weekends during the 2018-19 runDisney season, the next race weekend is the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Networks Hospitals, February 21–24. Registration for that race and others is available at www.rundisney.com.