Weather Dominates 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – 20th Half Marathon Cancelled

While there were plenty of inspirational stories during the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend that took place January 5-8, the weather certainly was the big winner. A cold-snap and front containing the possibility of severe lightning resulted in the cancellation of Saturday’s 20th Anniversary edition of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

On Sunday the races resumed in the cold, and Brazilian runner Fredison Costa captured his fourth straight Walt Disney World Marathon victory and sixth in the last seven years.  Fellow Brazil runner Giovanna Martins won the women’s title as more than 23,000 tackled the 26.2 mile race amid the chilly Florida conditions. Continue reading for more details on the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend from runDisney’s press release. Next up in the runDisney series is the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Light Side at Disneyland Resort, January 12-15.

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon

Top men’s finisher Fredison Costa of Brazil crosses the finish line at the Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna with a winning time of 2:23:15; image courtesy runDisney

From runDisney’s Press Release

Apparently not even Mother Nature can beat Fredison Costa at the Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna.

The Brazilian runner, who has dominated the 26.2-mile runDisney race in recent years, shrugged off unseasonably cool Florida temperatures early Sunday morning to notch his fourth straight Disney marathon victory and sixth in the last seven years.

This win, however, didn’t come without a fight. In addition to battling the chilly conditions, Costa, 39, fought off fellow Brazilian runner Vanilson Neves who pushed Costa for the lead through much of the race which went through Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios before finishing at Epcot.

But with about six miles to go, Neves started to run out of gas and Costa turned on the speed, finishing in 2:23:15. Neves crossed the finish line in 2:30:24 followed by Samuel Fazioli Salem, NH in 2:33:23.

“At Disney, every mile is magical. It’s all this happiness around and that’s what motivates me to come here,” Costa, who resides in Orlando and trains at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, said through an interpreter. “The atmosphere is amazing and I have a lot of fun running here…The (weather) affected me a lot at the beginning of the race, especially the wind. But I was able to overcome it and finish strong.”

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon

Top women’s finisher Giovanna Martins of Brazil, who won the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November, crosses the finish line at the Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna with a winning time of 2:48:05; image courtesy runDisney.


Giovanna Martins of Brazil, 34, won the women’s division for the second time in three years, leaping across the finish line while screaming with joy. She had little trouble outrunning the field, winning in 2:48:05, which was sweet redemption after an injury prevented her from finishing the race last year. Kelsey Wiberley of Fenton, Michigan was second at 2:52:56 and Heather Schulz of Orlando was third in 2:59:13.

“This year I found out my nephew has spinal muscular atrophy and I ran to dedicate this to him. It was my motivation for the year,” Martins said through an interpreter, explaining her jubilance and tears at the finish. “I wanted to get the message out on behalf of kids like my nephew who have this kind of condition.”

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon

Brazilians Fredison Costa and Giovanna Martins continue their dominance of the Walt Disney World Marathon by winning the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively. Costa has won four consecutive marathons and six of the last seven, while Martins has won the 26.2-mile race twice in the past three years. Image courtesy runDisney.


The marathon was the final race of the four-day race weekend that included events for runners of all ages and levels. It was also the first of four runDisney race weekends scheduled for this year at Walt Disney World Resort, which hosts runDisney events along with Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris.

Did you run one of the races during the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend? What was your experience? Feel free to share in the comments below. For more running adventures, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.