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Past Brazilians Champions Dominate Walt Disney World Marathon Again

Fredison Costa and Giovanna Martins, past champions of the Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna, took their thrones again Sunday, easily winning the male and female divisions of the 26th annual event.

Costa, a native of Brazil who now lives in Kissimmee and trains at Walt Disney World Resort, recaptured the title after struggling through last year’s race. It was his seventh Disney Marathon victory, leaving him one shy of Adriano Bastos’ record of eight wins. Running in unseasonably warm Florida weather, Costa posted a time of 2:18:45, far off 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.”

Martins of Salto, Brazil, is the first woman to win four Disney marathon titles, including the last three in a row. She was challenged for much of the race, but kicked it into high gear late in the race to win easily, then celebrated her momentous victory while clutching a Mickey plush in one hand and a Brazilian flag in the other.

In fact, she is the only four-time women’s winner in race history after crossing the finish line in 2:45:24 – more than two minutes ahead of Antonia Lins Da Silva of Fortaleza, Brazil, who was second (2:47:36) and Nancy Jurgens of Apex, North Carolina who was third (2:50:39).

(01/14/2019) ⚡AMP
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Marcelo Avelar of Brazil won the 2019 Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday clocking 01:08:54

For the third time in four years, Marcelo Avelar of Brazil walked away from the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday morning with the same feeling.

“I am very happy,’’ Avelar said.

Victory tends to do that to a runner. Avelar crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 8 minutes, 54 seconds, more than three minutes ahead of runner-up Jeff Martinez (1:12:00).

Tina Muir, an Englishwoman living in Lexington, Ky., experienced a similar emotion. Racing for the first time since the birth of her first child, Muir prevailed in 1:19:45.

“It is difficult when you are in the lead not to get caught up with paces and chasing times, but I still wanted to make my goal to enjoy it,’’ Muir said. “I made sure to smile as much as I could.’’

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend will conclude Sunday with the 26th annual marathon. About 15,000 runners are registered for the race, which will start at 5:30 a.m. and begin and end at Epcot.

Avelar, 34, will be there. It will be his fourth race in four days as part of the Dopey Challenge.

He potentially could be a four-time reigning champion in the half marathon, if not for the weather. Inclement conditions canceled the Disney World Half Marathon in 2017.

(01/12/2019) ⚡AMP
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Stefan LeRoy a Double amputee is ready to run the Disney marathon

From hardships to triumph, nothing is stopping a retired U.S. Army Specialist from hitting the pavement and proving anything is possible. Stefan LeRoy lost both his legs while serving overseas.

This weekend, the 27-year-old is taking on a new challenge at the 2019 Walt Disney World marathon.

LeRoy isn’t running just one race, not even two; he is running the 5K, 10K, half marathon and is hand cycling the full marathon on Sunday.

“It’s something that has been a part of my life,” he said.

In June of 2012, LeRoy was deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division when he stepped on a bomb while carrying a fellow soldier to a waiting helicopter seconds after an explosion went off around them in Afghanistan.

“I lost both my legs instantly,” he said. “Single above the knee and a single below the knee amputee.”

The traumatic incident that occurred thousands of miles away from home never stopped him from achieving his goal: to experience the thrill of running again.

LeRoy struggled with depression and anxiety until he got his prosthetic legs and running blades.

He describes his training as challenging, saying he suffers from blisters and painful chafing.

“I also have to be careful of overdoing it,” LeRoy said. “The recovery was a long process. It was very frustrating. I wasn’t initially able to walk in prosthetics, but I focused on adaptive sports. I made it that I was able to stay positive.”

Every strides LeRoy takes is a massive accomplishment.

His resilience is fueled by the support with the Achilles International Freedom Team, "an organization that encourages wounded vets to participate in running events."

His other support system is David M. Cordani, president and CEO of Cigna, who will accompany and guide LeRoy during the race again this year.

“You keep training. You keep stepping it up. You keep pushing through it,” LeRoy said.

(01/10/2019) ⚡AMP
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Susan Glickman has ran every single Disney Marathon and says race is like none other

Susan Glickman from Tampa has logged 655 miles at the happiest place on earth and she isn't stopping anytime soon.

"It is a race like none other," she said.

The Tampa woman has run in every single Disney Marathon since the first one in 1994. She isn't the only one; 75 other runners have completed all 25 of them to date.

"My permanent number now is number 159," she said. "That's another Disney perk is we always get placement in corral A."

And in this race, timing isn't everything. Glickman's best time at Disney is 4:08. That includes the stops she may take en route to finishing the 26.2 miles around the Disney parks.

"Around the Animal Kingdom, they have animals, like literally, they will have a warthog or an owl or something that you can pet along the way!"

Glickman has kept every bib and medal from all the races she's run so far: 68 total, including 25 from the Disney marathons.

She's one of 76 who have maintained a perfect record at the house of Mickey Mouse.

"I'm so proud to be part of it and I'm humbled by it," she said. "Literally, Jeff Galloway who's an Olympian, is part of this group. It's like, my name and Jeff's name are literally on the same board for one day!"

(01/09/2019) ⚡AMP
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