Running Gets Political at the Capital Challenge

Photo by Anna Hunter.

Photo by Anna Hunter.

Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals are ready to duke it out. Tomorrow morning, Washington D.C.’s politicos are taking it to the streets. But they’re not running for election. They’re running a three-mile road race.

The ACLI Capital Challenge is an annual battle between members of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government, as well as the D.C. media. The race will take place in Washington, D.C.’s East Potomac Park at 8 a.m.

“Our goal is to promote a reduction in oxygen debt,” said Race Director Jeff Darman, who began the event in 1981. “We are one of the last examples of true bi-partisanship in Washington, as teams from both parties compete while displaying good humor and support for an aggressive stimulus.”

Since 1981 the race has lampooned partisan politics for a good cause, raising $400,000 for Special Olympics District of Columbia. All entry fees, along with additional contributions from the sponsors, benefit Special Olympics, DC.

D.C. luminaries compete on teams of five people from their respective branches of government or news agency. A senator, representative, cabinet appointee, agency head, federal judge or journalist must captain each team.

The 125 teams this year feature some notable entrants. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) has run every year, and is captain of the appropriately named team, “29 Years and Running.”

Last year’s Senate winners, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who also holds the course record for a female senator, and Senator John Thune (R-SD) will compete to hold their titles. They will be joined by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jack Reed (D-RI), John Ensign (R-NV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

Representative Jean Schmidt (R-OH) will race with 35 other House members to keep her title of fastest female Representative. The reigning male House champ, Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN), has been sidelined with an injury.

Also out to defend his title of fastest federal judge, is Judge Craig Iscoe of the D.C. Superior Court. Reigning electronic journalists, Jon Hamilton of NPR and Carla Babb of Voice of America, will also defend their titles.

In addition to awards given for the top teams and individuals in each branch, teams are competing for the prestigious Best Team Name and James B. Kenin Worst Team Name honors. Among the entrants:

“Hagan’s Heroes” led by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), “Front Running and Insider Training” led by SEC Chief Counsel Douglas Scheidt, “Everyone Counts on Our Team” lead by David Whitford, a Census Bureau divisional chief, “Hot Commodities” led by Gary Gensler, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, “Expedited Motions” led by Judge Stephen Milliken of the D.C. Superior Court, “Fair and New Balanced” of Fox News, “There’s an AP for That” of the Associated Press-Broadcast, and “It’s Only a Paper, Moon” led by The Washington Times’ own David Sands.

National Public Radio, which has 11 teams entered, came up with some of the most, ahem, colorful names, like “Athletic Supporters of Public Radio” and “Schweddy Balls,” appropriately named for a classic Saturday Night Live skit starring Alec Baldwin that lampoons NPR.

The Washington Post will look to best their James B. Kenin Worst Team Name award from last year for “Team With No Name.” Their teams this year boast titles like “Post Haste” and “8 AM is Too Early.”

For more information and results, visit

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


04 2010