Politics is a marathon, not a sprint. That is, of course, unless you entered the ACLI Capital Challenge in Washington, DC.
The 27-year-old race benefits the DC Special Olympics and features teams of elected officials and federal employees. You wouldn’t expect to find speedsters on the floor of the House or the Senate, but you would be surprised at the quality of some of the runners serving in Congress.
The king of this three-mile race is U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), who has defeated all Congressional opposition for 19 years. This is even more amazing when you consider on several occasions he beat track legend Jim Ryun. At age 59, Gordon finished the 2008 race in 18:40, which would be good for an age group award just about anywhere.
On the women’s side, U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) outran her Congressional rivals with a 22:50. The 56-year-old Schmidt has been an avid runner for many years, with a marathon PR of 3:19.
Schmidt’s marathon running became a political, uh, football in her last election campaign when independent candidate Nathan J. Noy accused her of doctoring her finish line photo from the 1993 Columbus Marathon.
Schmidt was cleared by the Ohio Elections Commission when the runner just in front of her produced his finish line photo, clearly showing Schmidt completing the race. (I had some fun with the controversy at the time.)
George W. Bush is our first President to have completed a marathon, having run the 1993 Houston Marathon in 3:44. Should he win the White House, Sen. Barack Obama would seem to be a natural to best that time – relatively young, thin, “often jogging three miles” and, best of all, of Kenyan ancestry. But he better beat his smoking habit first.
It’s nice to see politicians put their squabbles aside to compete in a non-partisan event. But the race isn’t entirely devoid of politics. ACLI is the American Council of Life Insurers, a lobbying group for the insurance industry.