Congressional Teams Lace Up for Cherry Blossom Run

Posted April 1, 2004 at 8:55am

Bragging rights are on the line as Congressional teams complete their training for Sunday’s 32nd annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom Festival 10 Mile Run.

“The Hill competition has been very fierce the last few years and staffers have taken it very seriously,” said Loren Moeller, a spokeswoman for the run.

Rumor has it that staffers to Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are favored in the Congressional team event. Murrary’s office has finished first four years running.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass said. “In 1992, Senator Murray ran as the mom in tennis shoes and now our team is lacing up their sneakers and running the same as she, as an underdog.”

When asked how a team that has dominated the competition as of late could be considered an underdog, Glass responded, “We train hard and don’t take anything for granted.”

With Washington being a competitive town by nature, it’s not surprising several offices take the run so seriously; however, most realize the event is simply a great excuse to get outdoors and bond with fellow staffers while also getting some exercise.

“We’ve been running in it since 1999 but we’ve never been contenders,” said Carol Grunberg, an aide to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “[Wyden] always encourages us to de athletic stuff, he was a basketball player. Besides, it’s good to get out of the office and way from legislative stuff,” added Grunberg, who jokingly worried that some offices might have ringers on their team like with summer softball leagues.

The run will begin at 8 a.m. and start on Ohio Drive near the Tidal Basin. Participants will run down Independence Avenue, then turnaround and run across the Memorial Bridge twice, travel up the Rock Creek Parkway past the Kennedy Center and backtrack down the parkway to the Tidal Basin, where they started.

Besides the Congressional teams participating in the event, runners from credit unions, media outlets, running clubs and several government agencies will compete in separate contests as part of the run.

There is also an individual competition in which first place finisher in the male and female divisions wins $5,500. All totaled, more than $30,000 will be given to the top 12 male and female finishers. Traditionally, participants have been elite runners from all over the world who later go on to compete in the New York and Boston marathons. Last year, Olga Romanova of Russia had the best female time while John Korir of Kenya finished with the best male time.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Children’s Miracle Network.