2006 Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Runners Sweep Walt Disney World Half Marathon
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2006) On an unseasonably chilly day, Michigan runners Josh Eberly and Melissa White expectedly weathered the cool conditions and a record field to win the men's and women's divisions of the prestigious Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Eberly, 25, of Rochester, Mich., ran the 13.1-mile course at Walt Disney World in a time of 1:08:12 to lead a throng of more than 17,000 participants, the largest field in the 13-year history of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. White, 24, cruised to the finish line in 1:18:34.
Eberly and White are members of the same Hanson's Brooks Distance Project running club in Rochester, which dominated the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Hanson's Brooks runners Josh Moen and Jeff Gaudette finished second and third, respectively, among the men's division, and their running club teammate Dorothy McMahan finished second in the women's division.
Bob Winn of Ogunquit, Maine took the men's title in the Masters division (age 40-and-over), while Mandi Kowal of Iowa City, Iowa was the top women's Masters finisher at 1:31:43. In the wheelchair division, Steven Kruger of Atlanta, Ga., and Kristen Messer of Austin, Tx., finished first among men and women, respectively.
The Walt Disney World Half Marathon was held separately from the Walt Disney World Marathon for the first time this year. The full marathon is scheduled for Sunday at 6 a.m. at Walt Disney World and is expected to draw more than 14,000 entrants, bringing the total number of participants for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend to an event-record 31,000.
It took Eberly, Moen and Gaudette about two miles to work their way through the field before they made it into the lead. They paced the pack until the final half mile when Eberly and Moen broke away. Eberly narrowly edged Moen (1:08:12) at the finish line for the win in his Walt Disney World Half Marathon debut. Eberly's winning time was the fifth fastest time in the event's history.
"We decided to enter to get out of the cold weather in Michigan,'' Eberly said. "The weather here was cold, but it was absolutely perfect for us because we're used to running in cold weather in Michigan.''
White, who finished third in last year's Walt Disney World Half Marathon, ran near the front with McMahan and several others from their running club for the first eight miles. Then White picked up the pace and left her running mates behind to easily win the race for the first time. Cassie Hintz, an 18-year-old high school student from Stillwater, Maine, finished third (1:19:22) after leading the race in the early stages. White's time was the 12th fastest ever for this event.
"After I finished third here last year, I trained a lot harder coming into this race,'' White said. "I'm really happy. This is a great event. Disney puts on a great race with so much music and so many people cheering for you. You don't get all of that at other races.''
Complete searchable results are available online at disneyworldmarathon.com.