Brazilian Runner Outduels Countryman to Win Walt Disney World Marathon

Brazilian runner’s victory marks the country’s 17th win in the last 19 Walt Disney World Marathons; Michigan runner claims women’s title; race caps a four-day event weekend featuring beloved Disney entertainment, cool merchandise, industry-leading medals and classic Disney characters

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2024) – The magical rivalry between two Brazilian training partners continued Sunday as Vanilson Neves edged countryman Daniel dos Santos for the second time in the last three years to win the Walt Disney World Marathon. 

Last year, dos Santos outdueled Neves to win the 26.2-mile race, but Neves won the showdown this time. The victory marked the 17th time in the last 19 years that a Brazilian has won this popular race, which annually attracts thousands of runners from around the country and beyond. 

In the women’s division, Stephanie Muscat of Grand Rapids, Michigan was a surprise winner given it was her first-ever marathon. Muscat, who is originally from England and was a competitive swimmer in college, crossed the finished line well ahead of the field to post her winning time of 2:48:08, which was five minutes ahead of Georganne Watson of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania (2:53:12) and Samantha Palmer of Gainesville, Florida (2:53:48). 

Brian Siemann of Savoy, Illinois dominated the wheelchair division for the eighth straight time (1:58:18), finishing more than an hour ahead of second-place finisher Mike Greer of Canada (3:22:32). And Heather Sealover of Bossier City, Louisiana was the first woman wheelchair finisher (2:04:38), topping Liden Williamson of Seguin, Texas (2:07:18). 

Neves’ lead over dos Santos wasn’t nearly as wide. Racing amid cool morning temperatures and overcast skies through all four Disney theme parks, Neves got to the front of the pack and stayed there through the final stages of the race. His time of 2:26:51 was only seconds ahead of dos Santos (2:27:25) and Prescott Leach of Waltham, Massachusetts (2:28:17). 

It was a particularly satisfying result for Neves, who said he skipped celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve to focus on the final stretch of his training. Now, with Sunday’s victory in hand, he said he planned to finally revel in the spirit of the holidays along with toasting to his marathon performance. 

Undoubtedly, thousands of runners cheered their marathon performances afterwards by celebrating inside Disney’s theme parks, the perfect finish to a race weekend filled with Disney entertainment, characters and a unique atmosphere of camaraderie among runners of all ages and skill levels. In all, the event featured a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon and a marathon, plus a health and fitness expo. 

Next up is the return of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort in California next weekend followed by the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend (Feb. 22-26) at Walt Disney World Resort. 

For more information on runDisney races, visit www.rundisney.com. For news releases, photos and video of runDisney races, visit www.disneysportsnews.com. 

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