Walt Disney World is known as a special place where dreams come true, and that was the case for 15-year-olds Sarah Benchimol of Montreal last month, when she won the RunDisney Pixar Monsters 10K on April 14 in a time of 41:53, beating more than 6,700 other runners.
“I was certain that I was going to finish first, since I had about 150 meters on the next runner,” says Benchimol. “Since I had the lead, I took the time to smile for the photographers and even stopped for a photo with Goofy.”
This was not the first time Benchimol has found the top of the podium. Last year, at 14, she won several local 5K races around Montreal when her times her started to dip around the 20-minute mark. “The first race I won, I did not understand–I was amazed,” says Benchimol. “I thought that would be the peak of my running journey.”
Benchimol says winning a race at Disney had been a goal for about a year. “When I broke the tape, it was hard to realize that I had accomplished something that I have been working toward,” she says.
Besides dressing up and running as some of her favorite Disney characters, Benchimol enjoys the international aspect of racing at Walt Disney World. During this 10K, she high-fived Canadian workers at the Epcot Pavilion as she ran by.
Benchimol was inspired to start running by her mother, Flavie. “My mom liked it, so it was an easy fit to run with her,” she laughs. “Plus, she was bringing home some cool medals and she had tons of stories from races she did.”
The 15-year-old distance running star aspires to return to Walt Disney World to complete the Dopey Challenge in 2024 or 2025 (which involves runners racing 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon over four days). Benchimol is also interested in someday trying Ultra-Trail Harricana, a 125 km trail race deep in the boreal forests of Quebec’s Charlevoix region.
Although she plans to pursue running, she stresses that it has helped her to improve in other sports, like skiing, hockey, biking, hiking, climbing and flag football. “I know that I can still get faster and that I’m not the speediest out there,” says Benchimol. “Nothing can change that. I will always be a Disney race winner and a passionate runner!”