Adriano Bastos of Brazil won for his sixth time, ( wins from 2005 to 2009, and an earlier win in 2003) at the 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon in 2:20:38, twenty seconds faster than last year. Lisa Mizuntani, from Tsukuba, Japan, won the women's race for the first time, in 2:46.27.
Those were the facts. The other fact was that, with 45,000 runners and walkers, the 2009 WDW Marathon weekend, presented by CIGNA, is the largest field in the WDW's sixteen year history. With all of the concerns about the economy, the numbers were good, the weather was great, and what a great start to the Disney endurance series for 2009, which features twelve running events. What a good start for running to the new year of 2009!
Now, we will spend some time on the story behind WDW Weekend 2009! Yesterday, I noted that 14,000 had a magical experience at WDW 2009. Make that 45,000 by the end of the weekend!
Adriano Bastos is a man on a mission. " My goal is to win ten Disney Marathons. I love running this marathon because I can run and then have run in the Disney theme parks." Bastos is a man who can run two hour, twenty minute marathons in his sleep. As he approached the last two hundred meters of the race, performing for the fans. He puts his arms out, having them act as propellar wings as he went back and forth, in a zig zag motion, across the finish line area. Bastos obviously does enjoy his notoriety here and
it was obvious that he did not want the moment to end. The Brazilian looked strong and is obviously a 2:15 class marathoner-he runs 2:20 marathons with ease. He is built for endurance running, and probably would be better at fifty miles or 100 kilometers than today's distance.
Nearly seven minutes later came Aaron C. Church of South Riding, Virginia, who ran 2:27:12. In third place was Matthew Fecht, of Warren, Michigan, who ran 2:29:35. Fourth was Cesar Martins of Sao Paolo, Brazil in 2:29:52. In fifth place, seeking a break from the torrid Wisconsin winter, Sam Jurek of La Crosse, Wisconsin, ran 2:34.26. Runners two through fourteen thousand, while happy at their finish, all looked a bit tired, at least, from their effort. Bastos was seen walking around the finish aread for three hours after his race, without a care in the world. The guy is just a distance animal.
On the women's side, Lisa Muzutani of Tsukuba, Japan ran a nice 2:46.27 for first place. In second, Melanie G. Peters who won last year, ran 2:53:49. Repeating in third place is Christa Benton, who ran 2:54;35. Both second and third place were from St. Petersburg, Florida. In fourth place, Jennifer Hanley-Pinto of Jacksonville, Florida, ran 2:56:16. In fifth, from Paris, Canada was Natasha Yaremczuk, who ran 2;57:24 on this clear and warm day.
A notable debut in the marathon was Brennan Galloway, son of 1972 Olymian Jeff Galloway, and the pied piper of running, who ran 2:35:00, to win the 25-29 year old
age group, and sixth place overall. Brennan works with his mother, father and brother on the Galloway Training Clinics, which take Jeff all over the world. (Jeff recently was made a member of the Independent Running Retailer Associations Hall of Fame). A friend teased Brennan the night before the race, wondering if Brennan would use his father's low stress way of racing, which has been successful for so many first timers. Brennan did it his own way, and showed the a good effort is helped by good genes.
Yesterday, David Jankowski of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and a member of the Hanson Brooks Distance Project, won the half marathon in 1:07:36. Elizabeth Chiplagat of Kenya, currently training in Las Cruces, New Mexico and a member of WDW footwear sponsor Team Spira, won the women's half in 1:17:32.
Between those two races, plus the the five kilometer on Friday, over 45,000 runners and walkers had signed up to race over the WDW weekend 2009. A remarkable record for this weekend, considering the economic picture.
Disney has been a good litmus test the past sixteen years for the state of road running, and it continues that role well. The no show rate for the half marathon and marathon both stayed at just around ten percent of the fields. The cool and clear skies that greeted the half marathoners were cool and clear on Sunday, at first, then the temperatures moved to the seventies. Runners and walkers, heeding requests
to hydrate and run and walk smart, did so and that, to steal a phrase from a domestic goddess, is a good thing.
This year, Disney brought in CIGNA as a presenting sponsor. CIGNA is one of the largest health care companies in the country. They also sponsor the Falmouth Road Race. Running is perfect sponsorship for hospital, HMO and health related companies. Running and walking demonstrate the power of the individual to change their
lifestyles. It is also a pro active way to cut health costs and health insurance costs
way down, which are spiraling out of control. It should be noted and recognized
that he COO and VP of Marketing of Cigna participated this weekend.
On the Disney side, Faron D. Kelly, the Director of Marketing at Disney Sports Enterprise, is in pursuit of the Team Goofy medal, running both the half and the full marathon. Like Faron, about 3,000 other runners will be pursuing the goal of a Team Goofy medal.
The announcers are still pushing the fans to cheer as the six hour mark approaches and runners continue to come in waves, one after the other. Chip and Dale, Jimminy Cricket and other Disney characters greet the runners as they hit the hallowed finish line.
How to give you a better picture of the weekend? Allow me to finish with this anecdote:
On Thursday, I was walking back to my room and saw two tall skinny guys in Hanson Brooks t shirts and sweats. One had black hair and a beard and one had blond hair and a beard. Both were obviously distance runners. The young man with black hair was David Jankowski, and the second Hanson Brooks member was Paul Jellema.
When I asked them how they would race this weekend, Paul noted, " We are using the half marathon as a training run, we should run about 1:10. We are training towards the 10,000 meters at the Stanford, coming up the the late spring."
Well, as races do, the duo ran a bit faster than they thought. David went on to win, in 1:07:36 and Paul ran 1:08:57. When I asked Paul afterwards, he noted that " We went out on pace and then, about four miles, started running five minute miles. They had twenty seconds on me at eight miles, and then it just grew..that can happen fast in road racing."
The winner of the half marathon, David Jankowski , in his post race interview described a good day quite well: " The more exciting the course, the faster I ran. I guess that I just got pretty excited."
45,000 runners and walkers were pretty happy this weekend, as the sport again showed it strength, its success, and its promise.
(Note that the WDW 2010 registration opens on January 12, 2009. For further information, and register for any Disney endurance race, please go to http://www.disneyworld