Fan favorite wins Disney race

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Adriano Bastos was the only person on the Walt Disney World estate with enough star power to rival Mickey Mouse Sunday.

Children waited outside of a gate to shake his hand. Spectators shouted their congratulations. Photographers, it seemed, couldn't snap enough photos of the flashy Brazilian runner with the green and yellow spray-painted braids.

Without a doubt, Bastos is the most recognized and successful marathon runner in the Walt Disney World Marathon's 14-year history.

"[Running] is not as big as soccer in Brazil, but this win is very important for Brazilians," said Bastos' Portuguese translator, Juliana Cadiz.

Bastos brought the flash and the fast. He ran the entire race in the leader's position and at 2:19:24 finished nearly 13 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Matthew Dobson, a 37-year old from Jay (2:32:22). This is his fourth win at the marathon — a record for the event.

Equally impressive were the performances of women's winner Gabriela Trana (2:57:03) and runner-up Christa Benton (2:57:25). Trana, from Costa Rica, and Benton, from St. Petersburg, found themselves at the top of the heap even though neither had run a 26.2-mile course before Sunday.

But it was Bastos who headlined the day. More than his victories, he's become known for his flamboyant personality and unique sense of style.

In mid sprint, Bastos stopped on the victory lap. He squatted to his knees, broke into his signature gap-toothed grin and smiled at the spectators as the deejay counted down the seconds for Bastos to beat his time in 2006. He shaved off 20 seconds — even with his timeout for entertainment.

He wears black Mickey Mouse head tattoos on the back of each bronzed calf muscle.

"Thinking about getting a Mickey Mouse tattoo for every win," Bastos said. Most of the 12,000-plus Disney marathoners were amateur runners who were raising money for charitable causes. The rest ran for fun. No prize money is awarded to the winners.

To Bastos, the event falls into the fun category, but it's something he takes seriously. He's the third male from Sao Paulo to win the race; the marathon has made Bastos a celebrity in his hometown.

He runs about three marathons a year and pulls in about $4,000 a month from sponsors to compete. For winning the Disney marathon, he'll get about a $1,000 bonus, Bastos said.

"I felt the pressure in Brazil from sponsors, from family, from the country, from the media of winning again. People were kind of expecting me to win," Bastos said. "That's why it was harder this time around."

Add to that a 23-hour flight from Brazil. He didn't arrive in Orlando until 3 a.m. Saturday. The marathon was less than 24 hours later.

Like Bastos, Benton combines work and fun in the Disney marathon. She is training with her Keswick High School coach Lance Lipham to qualify for the 2008 Olympics marathon. The qualifying time is 2:48.

Benton, 22, was a two-time all America long-distance runner while competing for the University of South Florida in Tampa. She was a two-time national Foot Locker qualifier in her junior and senior high school seasons.

Before Sunday, she hadn't run a marathon. But Lipham always believed she would be successful.

"Whenever she got done with her races [in college], her recovery time was always very quick," said Lipham, who's coached at Keswick for 12 seasons. "She would be talking normally in about 15 seconds. That made me think she could run farther."

Benton set a women's course record at the Florida Gulf Beaches Holiday Halfathon in Clearwater on Dec. 10. She finished in 1:21.

Benton almost won Sunday's event. She took the lead at mile 13 and ran in first place until Trana passed her on the final mile.

"I knew she was coming on," said Benton, who graduated summa cum laudefrom USF last Saturday. "I ran out of steam, but I had given all that I had."

Marathon resultsC9 



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