Brazil’s dominance of the Walt Disney World Marathon has ended.
For the first time in 14 years, an American runner won the popular marathon on the 25th anniversary of the race.
Nick Hilton 28, of Tuscon, Arizona won the 26.2 mile race that went through the Walt Disney World Resort in 2:17:52. The win also qualifies Hilton for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the 2020 Summer Games.
In the women’s division, Brazilian runner Giovanna Martins of Sao Paulo made history when she became the only three-time women’s winner in race history. Martins finished in 2:47:22, well ahead of Jackie Hall of St. Charles, Missouri (2:49:48) and Alicia Cevallos of Quito, Ecuador (2:50:49).
Hilton is only the fourth American runner to win the race. “I feel amazing,’’ Hilton said. “The marathon has been a mixed bag for me, so to come back to a place (Walt Disney World Resort) that means a lot to me and my wife, and to come back and win, feels amazing.’’
The last time an American won the race was 2004.
He finished more than two minutes ahead of Vanilson Neves of Sao Paulo (2:20:25) who was followed by Nicholas Caprario of Kansas City, Missouri (2:21:31).
“I had a great group of guys who ran with me,’’ Hilton said. “By about mile 20, there were two of us and we started running some 5 flats (five-minute mile pace). I just happened to hold on a little bit better towards the end of the race.’’
The Disney marathon weekend began in 1994 with one race involving roughly 8,000. This year, 25,500 runners participated in the marathon.
The marathon tops a weekend of race, including a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon.
The race also included 76 runners who have now run all 25 Disney marathons.