Members Getting Ready for Race

Capital Challenge Brings Media and Gov’t Branches Together for Run

Posted April 11, 2007 at 3:56pm

With the Iraq War and other issues continuing to split Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, organizers of the American Council of Life Insurers’ Capital Challenge race say they hope to bring bipartisan fun back to the District.

The three-mile race benefiting the District of Columbia Special Olympics takes place May 2, bringing together luminaries from the legislative, executive and judicial branches to answer the question, “Which is the fittest?” In its 26th year, the event has raised more than $300,000 and aims to raise about $17,000 this year, race director Jeff Darman said.

“Everybody gets along quite well and everyone is literally running together,” Darman said.

Members of Congress, agency heads, federal judges and media members lead five-person teams. At the end of the race, the fastest teams in House, Senate, executive, judicial and media categories receive awards. Individual runners in each category also are recognized. [IMGCAP(1)]

First held in 1981, the race has become a staple on Capitol Hill and draws a few dozen Members of Congress each year — Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), who has never missed a race, will run for the 26th time. Team Lugar took the Senate category last year.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and Gordon’s Mercenary Highlanders rose above other House teams to win in the category in 2006. Gordon took the top award for the male Representative category after running the track in 18 minutes and 5 seconds. Asked whether he’s on the lookout for any new competition in the race, Gordon said there is always a “new crop” each year.

“I get older every year, and they get younger,” Gordon said. He added, though, that he would like to win again.

Last year also was a time for new records. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) broke his age-70-and-over captain record with 27 minutes and 54 seconds, while Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) broke the 60-69 age group women’s captain record with a time of 29 minutes and 19 seconds.

Darman said he expects last year’s top teams to do well this year, but there are new faces to consider, especially with November’s elections.

Among this year’s participants is Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), who triumphed at the polls in the fall and will try to do the same on the course. The Indiana Congressman runs daily and was a standout athlete during high school. His spokeswoman, Katie Moreau, said Hill is looking forward to the event.

Capital Challenge participants also can snag awards for team names. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and “run FoRUSSt run!” won last year’s best team name category, while Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) and his “Feeney’s Weenies” won the worst-named team.

There will be no shortage of clever names this year, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) “Just for the Halibut” and the “Red, White and Blumenauer” team for Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) already in the running.

The deadline to register for the ACLI Capital Challenge race is April 16 with an entry fee of $70. The race will take place at 8 a.m. on May 2 at Anacostia Park.