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Boston Bound: Capitol Hill Staffers Lace Up for Marathon

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Allen, right, a legislative assistant for Sen. Amy Klobuchar , will be among the 36,000 runners at this year’s Boston Marathon. Lehner, communications director for Sen. Mary L. Landrieu , ran Boston in 2011 and has already qualified for the 2015 marathon.

Both Allen and Lehner are members of the Capitol Hill Distance Project, competitive runners who train Friday mornings on the National Mall. Allen is also a member of Georgetown Running Club, an elite team that sets out Wednesday evenings, though she admits the timing “sometimes is hard to make when the Senate is in session.”

Getting In

Unlike other races that rely on lotteries or open registration, the Boston Marathon reserves most of its spots for competitive runners who meet qualifying times for their age groups. The fastest runners have an opportunity to sign up before others. And the race fills up fast.

“Years ago they didn’t have quite as many runners that cared to go Boston. That’s changed,” said Charlie Ban, editor-in-chief of RunWashington. “If you’re a marathoner, people ask you if you’ve run Boston. And most people will want to say yes. It’s about as much of a gold standard in marathoning as you can get.”

More than 3,000 runners who met the qualifying times and applied were denied entry. The BAA reserved spots for the nearly 6,000 runners who were forced to exit the course last year immediately following the bombing, and an additional 5,500 spots for “non-qualifying” runners who have earned entry by raising money for charity.

Count Sinema in that bunch. The congresswoman is running for “Team MR8,” a charity established in memory of 8-year-old Martin Richard, killed in the 2013 bombings.

Boston will be Sinema’s 10th marathon — including a full Ironman in November. Her personal record is 4:29 from the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix, which runs through her congressional district. Sinema compares marathon training to a daily task like showering and brushing her teeth. “I do those things every single day. I treat training the same — do it in the morning when you get up, even when you don’t want to, until it becomes just another habit. Training for the Boston Marathon is way easier than training for the Ironman.”

Boston Strong

The staffers who spoke to CQ Roll Call anticipated high emotions in running the race. None seem daunted by the additional security measures, which prohibit runners from bringing personal items with them to the starting area in Hopkinton, Mass. Any clothes discarded before the race starts will be donated to charity, and if a runner wants to bring a phone or set of keys, it must fit into a fanny pack, with exact dimensions set by the BAA.

“The Boston Marathon is already one of Boston’s greatest days,” said Scott Zoback, district press secretary for Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. Zoback is running the marathon as a non-qualifying charity runner with the Brigham & Women’s Hospital Marathon Team. “I’ve wanted to run Boston for several years. Having been on Boylston Street when the bombs exploded last year, this [year] was the right time for me to run.”

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