14,000 Have Magical Experience at WDW Half Marathon: Jankowski, Chelagat Top Fields, by Larry Eder , release


The Running Network has had their annual meetings at the WDW Marathon
since 1994, and we have had an official arrangement with Disney sports since 1996. The beauty of the arrangement is that our 24 publications have their national meetings, we provide coverage for the various events that take part of the WDW weekend. It was also a great weekend for our publishers to get a feel for the health of the sport.

For me, WDW weekend is a litmus test on the health of the sport. Race director John Hughes and his team have consistently tried new approaches to old problems or challenges and have been remarkably successful. The announcing has been done by Creigh Kelly, one of the sport's top announcers, and a team of local celebrities, for the history of the WDW. The announcers cheer on the starters and then entertain, for
several hours the families, friends and fans of the WDW Half Marathon and Marathon, presented by CIGNA.

There is music, Disney characters, and many of the lucky finishers have their
names called out as they cross the finish line. Besides runners of all shapes, ages
and sizes, there are some pretty impressive costumes. There is a Japanese male
runner who runs as Minnie Mouse and runs under 1:30, even with stopping to have pictures taken with Jimminy Cricket and the Chipmunks! Several runners were dressed as Tinkerbell, with both female and male interpretations of this iconic character. Hats off to the gentlemen who dressed as Tinkerbell, waving his magic wand and wearing pink running shoes. One runner, who was passed by the aforementioned Tinkerbell impersonator, mentioned, " You would never expect that Tinkerbell could drop under seven minute pace....." As we have seen many times at the WDW, one should expect the unexpected.

The WDW was the first major event to see that elite prize money just did not fit at
the event. It has not diminished the event, nor diminished other events that have
elite fields-WDW has walked orrun its own way.

The WDW added a half marathon in 1998, and it doubled the field. This year,
45,000 runners and walkers have registered for the 5k, half marathon and
marathon for this coming weekend.

It was not that long ago that WDW gave the half marathon a day and the marathon their own days, giving each event its due respect and swelling the weekend fields over the impressive total of 40,000!

This year, given the economy, 14,000 of the 17,000 accepted and signed half marathoners, showed up at the start. That number is called a no show percentage. For more races, no show is five to six percent. In 2009, ten percent is probably a number that will satisfy most race directors.

Disney choreographs virtually every moment in the part. Your memories are to
last a life time here and the WDW does try to live up to that goal.

For nearly 14,000 runners, including David Jankowski and Elizabeth Chelegat,
who won both the men and women' half marathons this year, their yearly
excursion through the Walt Disney World was a magical experience.

For more on the Disney race, http://www.disneyworldmarathon.com

Jankowski, Chelagat Break Tape

at Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Hanson's Brooks Distance Project Running Club of Rochester, Mich. brings home seventh half marathon title; 17,000 runners contribute to record Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – (Jan. 10, 2009) - David Jankowski of Rochester Hills, Mich. and Elizabeth Chelagat of Las Cruces, N.Mex. won the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, in the popular Walt Disney World Half Marathon. The 24-year old Jankowski posted a time of 1:07:36, conquering a field of more than 17,000 participants - and a chilly Florida morning - en route to victory. The win marks the seventh title in either the men’s or women’s division for Hanson’s Brooks Distance Project Running Club.

Edward Kiptum, another Las Cruces native, placed second overall at 1:08:10 in this year’s race. The 2007 Half Marathon winner Joe Shoemaker from Maynard, Mass. made another impressive showing, finishing third at 1:08:17.

Women’s champ Chelagat, 28, finished the 13.1 mile journey with an impressive time of 1:17:32. She bested Suzanne Huelster from Riverton, N.J. who came in second at 1:20:55 and Kimberly Coleman from Louisville, Ky. who finished at 1:22:54.

Robert Winn, 50, of Ogunquit, Maine reigned supreme in the Masters division (ages 40 and up) with a time of 1:14:02. Ana Luiza Garcez, 46, from Sao Paulo, Brazil won the women’s Masters race posting a time of 1:31:41.

In the Wheelchair Marathon, Germantown, Tenn. resident John Payne won with a time of 1:24:18, just 33 seconds ahead of women’s Wheelchair winner Jacqui Kapinowski, from Point Pleasant, N.J. Kapinowski, 46, became the first back-to-back winner in the women’s Wheelchair Marathon since Katherine Hunter won six years in a row between 1998 and 2003.

45,000 people registered for various events throughout Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend making it the largest since the event began in 1994. The Walt Disney World Marathon is Sunday, January 11 and 22,000 strong have registered for the magical trek through Disney’s four major theme parks. The weekend also includes the Circle of Life 5K, Disney’s Kid’s Races, and a Health and Fitness Expo.

For more information on Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend visit www.disneyworldmarathon.com.

About Disney’s Endurance Series

Disney’s Endurance Series gives recreational athletes of all ages and abilities the chance to walk, jog, run, bike and swim their way “around the world.” From marathons to road races to triathlons, athletes from across the country and around the world compete to stay in shape, achieve personal-best times and raise donations for charitable causes. Popular Endurance Series events are the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon (January), Disney’s Princess Half Marathon presented by Lady Foot Locker (March), Expedition Everest Challenge (September), Disneyland Half Marathon (September), Disney’s Race for the Taste 10K (October) and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K (October). Please visit disneyenduranceseries.com for more information.

For more information on the sport, please check : http://www.runningnetwork.com

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