Disney marathon to give central Florida large economic boost

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ORLANDO, Fla. - The central Florida economy gets a boost from the college bowl games in Orlando, but Channel 9's Mark Joyella learned the Disney marathon, which kicks off this weekend, draws a larger crowd.

The marathon weekend will bring more competitors than bowl games have spectators, and that doesn't include the friends and family who come along to watch the race, then stick around for the Florida vacation.

In fact, the marathon draws people from 60 countries and all 50 states, Joyella said.

The marathon weekend includes kids' races, a half-marathon and the full 26.2 miles.

Disney will host 66,000 competitors, compared to the 60,000 spectators the Capital One Bowl drew.

Add families and friends flying in to cheer the athletes on, and Disney expects roughly 130,000 people to flock to central Florida.

"In fact, we believe it to be the largest event in central Florida, larger than any convention, larger than any event at the Citrus Bowl," said Ken Potrock of Disney Sports.

Raissa Saidler flew in from Brazil to run Disney, making the marathon the centerpiece of her family's trip to Florida.

"The running was like the big reason we decided to come to the United States," Saidler said.

Disney estimates runners and their families will bring tens of millions of dollars to central Florida hotels, restaurants and stores over the next week.

And that doesn't include the millions in charitable donations many of the runners are raising.