-- Lake Buena Vista, Florida. January 11, 1998. Epcot Center.
Finish Line, Walt Disney World Marathon.The Running
Network, Courtesy of Larry Eder, American Track and Field
In its fifth year, the Walt Disney World Marathon has come into its own. The
magic of Disney, and the hard work of the Disney
Sports Department and race director Jon Hughes has made this race a success
by anyone's standards.
10,000 plus starters, with nearly 7,500 marathoners and 2,624 for the half
marathon plus an estimated 1,000 plus walkers .
For the second year, the race has not had prize money, and frankly, it does
not need it. This is a race for the people, and it continues to grow. Where
else can you run a marathon and not have your family ticked off at you? While
you are napping the day before, they can be at Epcot or Disneyworld.
And the day or two after, as you hobble up the steps to your cabana room, you can stay around and enjoy the park yourself.
That is what nearly ten thousand runners did this week--and that is the key,
obviously to the success of the Marathon and
other sporting events here.
Disney has developed the Disney Wide World of Sports. They have superb
soccer fields, an excellent outdoor Martin surface for tracksters,
a nice baseball stadium. Hosting amatuer sports
events, according to VP and former NFL footballer Reggie Williams, is
Disney's mantra. It makes perfect sense. Kids like to come to Disney, kids
compete in amatuer sports and, according to our
contacts at Disney, for every kid who competes, three family members follow
him or her down for an average stay of three nights--that is twelve hotel
nights per athletes--in Disney talk.44 team championships for Junior Olympics
in1997. The FootLocker Cross Country moved down
here and in 1998, the USATF Cross country will be here. That makes former
Stanford/SLO coach Brooks Johnson very happy. Brooks is the coordinator of
the track activities for the Wide World of Sports.
The killer for the athletes here is the humidity. It was 48 at the start of
the half and full marathons this morning, and by eight am, it was over sixty,
with high humidity.
In the half marathon, Keith Brantly of New Balance
won the half marathon, in only his second race since his return to training.
On the women's side, Joan Benoit Samuelson, testing her legs as a master,
took the women's half marathon. As the half finish was not near the marathon
finish, we have not times as of yet.
The marathon moved its time limit back to seven hours, which gives even me a
chance to finish. In the men's lead, Dick Hooper, a former winner and Irish
1984 Olympian is in the lead at 22 miles. He passed early leader and present
third placer Ernie Ashton, who lead thru 21 miles. The athlete who many are
suspecting will be the winner is Santiago Araujo of
Brazil, who has moved up gradually and is in second with a ten second gap at
After watching Dick Hooper and Ernie Ashton trade the lead for 24 miles,
Santiago De Araujo, from Sao Paolo, Brazil
took first in 2:23:24.
Lyobou Kluchko of the Ukraine won
the women's race in 2:44 and change.
Some of our Running Network Publishers and Editors ran the half and marathon.
Mike Andrews of Southern Runner did the half in 2:08, starting back with the
walkers and had fun enjoying the crowd. SWEAT magazine's Sue Berliner ran the
half as she prepares for a mountain marathon and possibly the American River
The finish line of the marathon has music, bands and screaming fans. It
really is a people's race! Bruce Palmer, one of our members from Oregon, told us that
the half marathon course was enjoyable, with people cheering on most of the
course. He told us that the start was great, as they ran the early miles in
the dark thru Disney World.
It is three and one half hours into the marathon and the middle of the pack
is at about eighteen miles now. Two more updates to follow.
We had a quick chat with Keith Brantly. Keith ran
1:10 and felt pretty good, said his hamstring was still a bit tight.
"Last year I came up with an injury in April and then I was picked to
run in the World Champs in Athens.
I pulled out of the World Champs, I was devestated
and it really hurt. Reality is that in sports you do not always call the shots.
Training is going well. My longest run is 13 miles. I was stretching it in
the end of the race. I slowed down near the end. I wanted to enjoy that,
unless someone is around you, and you were a little bit sore. For me, living
this was blizzard conditions. When you get an opportunity of a cool day, you
take the opportnity. "
"The crowds were really enthusiastic. I almost felt guilty not running
the whole marathon." said Keith Brantly.
Joan Samuelson took the women's half marathon title. "You get into a
race and there is a competitive feeling. I have done 40 miles a week since Chicago. This will be
the impetus for my training for Boston."
One of the other interesting developments was the addition of FootLocker as a marathon sponsor. They signed a 20 year
deal with the Disney Wide World of Sports to sponsor the event. ASICS is the
A special surprise award was given to the event founder Keith McClinsey. Keith was given a special recognition award ( a resolution and a sculpture) for his leadership in the
sport. Keith was instrumental in the development of Junior Olympic track and
cross country championships plus Foot Locker Championships at the Disney
complex. The award was given by the Running Network and the sculpture was
made by Mike Collins father, Cobert Collins, a
nationally recognized artist working in bronze and steel.
McClinsey is a model for all race directors. Keith
has been a fifteen year Disney employee, he knows intimately the resources
that Disney can bring to an event and he has been able to utilize them. The
scope of the expo, the pasta dinner, the course and the event, all held on
Disney property, would be foolhardy for someone other than Disney to produce.
Interviews with marathon winners:
" Today, I felt great. The weather was beatiful,
I felt great, I had a good pace and I tried to keep it" said Santiago DeAranjo.
"This year I had a big surprise. I reeled in the third placer at 20. At
24 miles, I was nearly preparing my victory speech, but then I was passed by
24 miles like I was standing still." said Dick Hooper, the 1997 winner.
1. Santiago F. De Araujo,
2. Dick Hooper, Ireland,
3. Eric Ashton, South Carolina,
1. Luybov Klochko, Ukraine,
2.Marina Jones, 2:57:19
3. Judy Maguire, Florida,
Congrats to Cal Track & Running News editor Cynci
Calvin, who finished her second marathon in a month, with a 3:38!
How do you judge a marathon's success? Increased numbers--yes,
that is part of it. Innovative events--yes, that
is part of it. The Disney World Marathon was a great success due to its
increased numbers, the festive events surrounding it, the excitement of
family and friends cheering on the finishers and most of all, because it is,
as Frank Shorter said yesterday, one of the few places where a runner can
bring his or her family, run the race and keep them happy at the same time.
Long live the Walt Disney World Marathon.
(We look forward to seeing our cyber audience at our 1998 online coverage of
the Boston Marathon this April!)