LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2023) – Friends became fierce rivals Sunday as Brazil’s Daniel dos Santos held off training partner and fellow countryman Vanilson Neves to win the 30th annual Walt Disney World Marathon presented by State Farm.
On a clear yet cool morning, dos Santos ran with the leaders early in the 26.2-mile race through all four Disney theme parks, then made his move in the final two miles to narrowly edge Neves at the finish line. dos Santos posted a winning time of 2:26:51, just 33 seconds ahead of Neves, who won the race last year. Josh Baden of Lawrence, Kansas was third at 2:32:02.
The dos Santos victory continued Brazil’s domination of this race. His win marked the 16th time in the last 18 years, including the last two, that a Brazilian has won this race, the final event during the race weekend that also included a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon and a health and fitness expo.
“There was months of training and I had to give up many things to dedicate to training,’’ dos Santos said, “so I could be in good physical condition to compete.’’
In the women’s division, Katherine Cargiulo of Salem, New Hampshire finished first with a time of 3:00:13 followed by Jamie Weglarz of Fort Myers, Florida (3:04:44) and Carolina Ferrao of Sao Paulo, Brazil (3:08:16). Cargiulo’s win was extra impressive given that she broke her back during a triathlon seven months ago and running became part of her recovery.
“Just to be running in a race is a dream come true,’’ she said. “This place is magical.’’
Brian Siemann of Savoy, Illinois won the wheelchair division (1:56:42) to go with his wheelchair wins in the 5K, 10K and half marathon. And Heather Sealover of Bossier City, Louisiana was the first women wheelchair finisher (2:39:18).
To mark the 30th running of the Disney Marathon, the race weekend was awash in nostalgia, including retro merchandise, medals, entertainment and classic Disney characters that all paid homage to three decades of endurance racing at Walt Disney World Resort. The first race took place on Jan. 16, 1994 and involved 6,000 runners. By comparison, Sunday’s race featured more than 13,000 runners – a testament to the growth and popularity of the. Walt Disney World Marathon.
Among the field were 59 runners who have now competed in all 30 Disney Marathons, thus maintaining their “perfect’’ status. They were undoubtedly on hand for many of the race’s most memorable moments, such as when Brazilian runners won 13 straight Disney Marathons from 2005-2017 and last year when Brittany Charboneau of Denver, Colorado won the women’s division of all four Disney Marathon Weekend races (5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon) to become the first person in the event’s history to pull off that sweep.
As the pages continue to turn in this race’s history books, more magical moments await. Runners can start registering for next year’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend on April 11. In the meantime, the runDisney race season continues next month with the 15th annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Corkcicle, Feb. 23-26, followed by the runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend, April 13-16.