The day before the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Sunday, Giovanna Martins’ translator predicted she would top the entire field, even men.
“Yes. Probably,’’ Martins said.
Martins, who is from Salto, Brazil, finished the 13.1-mile race first overall in 1 hour, 19 minutes, 16 seconds. It is believed to be the first time that a woman has achieved that distinction in a race with a field this big, race director Jon Hughes said.
About 15,000 registered for the eighth annual Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon.
“It’s happened in longer races because women are built better for endurance, like a hundred-mile races have been won by women,’’ Hughes said. “But in a large mixed race of this size, it’s never happened in any race that I’ve done, and I’ve produced over a thousand.’’
Martins, 34, topped Paul Graham of the United Kingdom by six seconds to capture her second consecutive Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon title. Martins won the Disney World Marathon in 2015 and ’17.
“I was not putting [gender] on the man who was in front,’’ Martins said through her translator. “I put it in my head that that was a woman. I was going to beat her. She could not win.’’
Martins and Graham, 40, were running together for most of the race, which began at Magic Kingdom and ended at Epcot. Martins said she realized she was going to prevail at roughly the 17-kilometer mark, or about 2.5 miles from the finish.
“As we were going up the hills, I could see the guy was very tired,’’ Martins said.
Said Graham: “She just took off. I didn’t have the legs to keep up with her.’’
Graham, a mechanical engineer, topped the men’s division at the conclusion of a two-week vacation.
“I’ve done races in England where I’ve been running with top women,’’ he said. “It wasn’t unusual for me. I could tell she was a very good runner. We kept each other going.’’
Martins topped the women’s runner-up, Valery Perry (1:29:15) of Oviedo, by almost 10 minutes. Stephanie Hankins of New Orleans placed third in 1:30:20.
Joseph Dreher of Melbourne finished more than a minute behind Graham in 1:20:27. David Short (1:21:34) of Asheville, N.C., came in third.
Brandon Kushner (1:28:36) of Winter Park placed 14th, the highest for a man from the Sentinel’s coverage area.
The race chatter, though, revolved around Martins.
“When I ran, it was 15 percent female,’’ said Hughes, who recently became a first-time grandfather. “Today it’s 60-65 percent female, so what’s great is women can and should be involved in sports.
“Back in the day, they weren’t encouraged. Now, they’re not only encouraged, but they’re flourishing and they’re getting better.’’
Martins trains runners in her native country. As she began to pull away, she recalled a phrase she often tells her students.
“Start with the feeling of the scientist and arrive with the feeling of the artist,’’ she said.
And sometimes what comes out is a thing of beauty.