2007 Walt Disney World Marathon Report: Manny Otero
|Today was a fun day. I got to be the lead man for the Women's leader of the marathon, and I was treated to one of the best races I've seen yet.
When I arrived at Disney I made my way on my bike to the race start area where we (the bike volunteers) always meet. As I was talking to a couple of the guys I noticed this girl walking around. She is Christa Benton, 22 years old, from St. Petersburg, FL. She was a cutie. =)
I rode around for a bit checking out the crowd and hanging out with my good friends who were all doing the race. Then, at 6:00AM, the gun went off and the race was underway.
Within the first half mile things started to shape up in the women's race. I took this picture just before the 1 mile marker. And now that you know their names, I will use those from now on.
For miles 1-4, Christa, Jennifer, and Elizabete stayed pretty much right next to each other, with Christa leading at the front most of the way. But around miles 4-5, Elizabete kicked it on high gear and slowly started to pull away. Jennifer faded to 2nd place, and Christa, much to my chagrin, faded fast and moved to a distant 3rd.
By mile 7, now riding next to Elizabete, I couldn't even see Jennifer and Christa anymore. Elizabete was opening a pretty commanding lead. And it was a lead which I really thought she take all the way to the finish line. But I was wrong.
Elizabete, from Brazil, did manage to hold her lead for a very long time. From mile 7 to 15, she was in control. That's when I stopped to take a quick pee break, right next to the 15 mile marker. When I finished and started to get back on my bike, I looked back and saw Jennifer (from Jacksonville, FL) moving up at a pretty decent pace. I looked at the clock and saw that she was only about 45 seconds behind Elizabete. And about 30 seconds behind her was Christa, also moving pretty good.
I rode back up to Elizabete and at the 16 mile marker I called in her time to the media tent. I also told them how close the other two girls were. Jennifer continued to close the lead on Elizabete, cutting time with every step. I could also see Christa, but she was still about 30 seconds behind Jennifer. That's about when we entered Animal Kingdom.
In Animal Kingdom there are a lot of turns, so it's kinda hard to look back and see runners. So I stayed with Elizabete as she was still leading. But I was sure Jennifer would come up on her anytime.
We exited Animal Kingdom and shortly afterwards, to my huge surprise, I saw not Jennifer, but Christa, moving up fast, very fast.
Between mile 18 to 19, Elizabete did all she could to keep Christa back, but it was to no avail. Exactly at the 19 mile maker, Christa overtook Elizabete, and immediately started to put time between them.
Of course now I was really happy. Because a) I thought Christa was incredibly, incredibly cute, and b) she was from Florida. I don't want some outsider winning our race. By mile 22 Christa had a good 2 minute lead on Elizabete.
I started trying to encourage her telling her how good she looked and how great she was doing. I also told her that her come from behind and her pace was impressive. She didn't say much as she was of course trying to run, but she did smile. =)
We entered and exited MGM Studios and Christa was in complete control. Keeping a great pace and looking like she was enjoying it.
Next we hit Disney's Boardwalk, with about 2 miles to go, I looked back and couldn't see 2nd place female. I told her about it and told her she was doing great.
We left the Boardwalk and entered EPCOT Center. 1.5 miles to go. I called in her time at the 25 mile marker and we were close enough that I could hear the announcer say it over the loudspeaker. "Ladies and gentleman the lead female is now in EPCOT! She will be finishing in just minutes!"
0.5 miles to go and Christa was looking great. That's about the time I decided to look back. And there she was. A new girl. A girl I had not seen yet all day. She seemed to come out of nowhere. It was this girl.
Gabriela (from Costa Rica) was only about 20 seconds back. Of course, I told Christa. "There's a girl behind you that I haven't seen before. She's about 20 seconds back." I know that's probably unfair, but I wanted Christa to win damn it!
0.3 miles to go and Gabriela is closing fast. Now only 10 seconds back. I called the media tent and told them this was going to be a close finish. Again I heard it over the loud speaker. "Ladies and gentleman the 1st and 2nd place female and neck to neck. This is going to be a close finish!" Of course, the girls heard it too.
The 26 mile marker. 0.2 miles to go. Gabriela was now running right next to Christa. Shoulder to shoulder.
At that same time we exit EPCOT Center, make a slight right turn, and 0.15 miles away you can now see the finish line.
It was right then that Gabriela made her pass. Christa couldn't respond. She faded. And then, to add insult to injury, Gabriela started sprinting!
Gabriela crossed the finish line first in 2:57:03 (6:45 pace). Christa crossed in 2nd place, a mere 22 seconds later (6:46 pace). Elizabete ended up in 3rd place, just over two minutes back. Here are the full results.
A few minutes later I saw Christa walking to the media tent with her family. I rode up and told her she did an amazing job. She was all smiles and said thank you. Then her mom (I think) said something that was amazing to me. "And it was her first marathon."
After that I rode backwards on the course and found all my friends who were still running. I ran into Jason near the entrance to MGM Studios and I rode back with him and Chris Logan all the way to the finish line.
All in all, another excellent day at Disney and I can't wait to be back there next year!