September 10, 1981. Ronald Reagan was President, Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House, and the Miss America pageant was the top-rated TV show that week.

  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) finished 35th out of 201 finishers with a time of 18:15. This remains the fastest time ever by a U.S. Senator.
  • Finishing 41st with a time of 18:36 was Juan Williams, then with the Washington Post. Williams has been a Fox News contributor since 1997.
  • Ed Markey finished 175th with a time of 26:13. Then a Representative and now a Senator from Massachusetts, Markey is the only member of Congress from the 1981 race still in office.

ACLI began sponsoring the Capital Challenge in 2004.

  • Of the 11 Senators who ran that year, three remain in the Senate: Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
  • Of the 18 Representatives who ran that year, only one remains in the House: Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.

  • Tim Walz of Minnesota ran in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 when he served as the Representative from Minnesota’s 1st District.
  • Jay Inslee of Washington ran in 2004 when he served as the Representative from Washington’s 1st District.

  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough ran in the race in 2024 and also in 2014 and 2016 when he served as Chief of Staff to President Obama.
  • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg ran in the race in 2024.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough finishing the 2024 ACLI Capital Challenge

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg finishing the 2024 ACLI Capital Challenge

  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona (23:07) was the fastest female member of Congress. She has been the fastest female member nine times.
  • In his first ACLI Capital Challenge, Rep. Greg Casar of Texas (19:33) was the fastest male member of Congress.

(L to R) ACLI President and CEO Susan Neely, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Rep. Greg Casar, and 2024 Celebrity Runner Camille Herron

  • Deena Kastor was the official race starter at the 2019 race.
  • She won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics and held the American marathon record from 2006 until 2022.
  • In March 2019, she broke the American masters record for the fastest 8K by a woman 45-to-49-years-old.
  • Mike McCurry ran in 1983 for Rep. Dave McCurdy’s team. McCurry was President Clinton’s press secretary from December 1994 to August 1998.
  • Tony Snow ran in 1992 with a team from President George H.W. Bush’s White House staff. Snow was President George W. Bush’s press secretary from May 2006 to September 2007.
  • Sean Spicer ran in 1999 for Rep. Mark Foley’s team. Spicer was President Trump’s press secretary from January 2017 to July 2017.
  • Jake Siewert ran in 2000 with a team from President Clinton’s White House staff. Siewert became President Clinton’s press secretary later that year, serving from September 2000 to January 2001.
  • Three-time Olympian and former mile world-record holder Jim Ryun ran several times when he served as a Kansas congressman. His House office team was the fastest in the House of Representatives six times between 1999-2005.
  • NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent ran several times when he served as an Oklahoma congressman. His House office team finished 3rd in 1999, trailing only the teams of Ryun and former Tennessee Representative Bart Gordon.
  • Former Olympian and NBA player Tom McMillen ran in 1993-1995 when he served as co-chair of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
  • Jeff Zients, Chief of Staff to President Biden, ran in 2024.
  • John Podesta ran in 2000 as President Clinton’s Chief of Staff, in 2014 as a counselor to President Obama and in 2023 and 2024 as senior advisor to President Biden.
  • Denis McDonough ran in 2014 and 2016 as President Obama’s Chief of Staff, and in 2024 as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
  • Mark Meadows ran in 2013 while serving as a North Carolina congressman. He was President Trump’s Chief of Staff in 2020-21.
  • White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients (far left) finishing the 2024 ACLI Capital Challenge

  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh ran in 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2024 as a Supreme Court justice. He also participated every year between 2010 and 2018 while he served as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was the fastest federal judge five times (2010-13 and 2015). His Supreme Court team was the fastest judicial team in 2019, 2023 and 2024.
  • Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson ran in 2023 and 2024. She also ran in 2018 and 2019 while serving as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
  • Justice Amy Coney Barrett ran for the first time in 2024.
  • Anthony Kennedy ran in 1990 when he was a Supreme Court justice.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts ran in 1984 and 1985 when he worked in the White House Counsel’s office during the Reagan administration. He also ran in 1990 and 1991 while working in the office of the U.S. Solicitor General, Kenneth Starr.

    Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (foreground) after finishing the 2024 ACLI Capital Challenge

    Justice Amy Coney Barrett (Bib 1480) heading to the starting line before the 2024 ACLI Capital Challenge

  • Beto O’Rourke ran in 2016, when he was a member of Congress from Texas. O’Rourke was the fastest male runner from the House of Representatives.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell of California ran in 2015. He was the fastest male runner from the House of Representatives.
  • Jay Inslee ran in 2004, when he was a member of Congress from Washington.
  • Also in 2004, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio participated. He beat Inslee by 2:04, but Inslee’s team finished 4th out of 17 House teams, while Ryan’s team finished 7th.
  • Ray LaHood ran 11 times between 1995-2008 while serving as the House member representing the 18th District of Illinois. He also ran as a House staff member in 1992 and as the Secretary of Transportation in 2009 (seen below). His best time was 25:47 in 1999.
  • His son, Darin LaHood, the current House member from the 18th District of Illinois, ran in the race in 2016 with a time of 23:35.
  • But the fastest LaHood was Sam LaHood, Ray’s other son and Darin’s younger brother. He ran on his father’s team in 2002-2005 and in 2008, with his best time of 22:50 coming in 2002.
  • Vice President Mike Pence participated in the ACLI Capital Challenge three times (2007, 2009-10) while he served as an Indiana congressman.
  • Several members of Vice President Pence’s family also competed in the race including his wife Karen (2007 and 2010), son Michael (2007), and daughter Charlotte (2007).
  • Vice President Pence visited ACLI in June 2018 to address ACLI members during their fly-in to Washington D.C.
  • Al Gore participated in the Capital Challenge 10 times between 1985-1998 – six times as a Senate member and four times as vice president.
  • In his final Capital Challenge appearance in 1998, his five-person team from the office of the vice president finished 16th out of 30 teams from the executive branch.
  • Gore’s time in 1998 for the three-mile course was 27:04. Among the 170 people he beat were Andrea Mitchell (NBC News) and Norah O’Donnell (now anchor of the CBS Evening News, then with Roll Call).
  • Dan Quayle ran in 1984 when he served in the Senate from Indiana.

  • He finished in 21:54, making him the fastest former VP.
  • Keira D’Amato, our celebrity runner in 2021 and 2022, broke the American women’s marathon record on January 16, 2022.
  • Her time of 2:19:12 at the Houston Marathon was 24 seconds faster than the old mark set at the 2006 London Marathon by 2019 Capital Challenge celebrity runner Deena Kastor.
  • A mother of two and a Realtor, D’Amato broke the 10-mile women’s record in 2020 at Washington D.C.’s Anacostia Park where the Capital Challenge is held.

  • Robin Givhan won a Pulitzer with the Washington Post in 2006. She ran on a Post team in 2010.
  • Dana Priest ran in 2003-05 with Washington Post teams. She won Pulitzers in 2006 and 2008 while at the Post.
  • Eli Saslow ran in 2006 on a Washington Post team. He won Pulitzers in 2014 and 2023 for his work at the Post.
  • David Fahrenthold ran on Washington Post teams in 2010 and 2011. He won a Pulitzer in 2017 while at the Post.
  • John Boehner, who served as Speaker from 2011 to 2015, ran in 1991 during his first term in the House representing Ohio’s 8th District.
  • Susan Zirinsky ran in 1985 with a team from CBS News. She went on to become president of CBS News.
  • Joseph Peyronnin ran in 1985-86 with CBS News. He went on to become president of Fox News.
  • David Rhodes ran in 2002-2006 with Fox News. He went on to become president of CBS News.
  • Bret Baier of Fox News ran on a Fox team four times between 2002 and 2007.
  • Steve Kornacki of NBC ran in 2006 while with Roll Call.
  • Phil Mattingly of CNN ran in 2008-09 with CQ and in 2010 with Bloomberg.
  • Margaret Brennan ran in 2013, 2016 and 2019 for CBS teams.

Margaret Brennan, standing third from left, with CBS teams at the 2019 ACLI Capital Challenge.

  • David Waller, former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency who represented the IAEA’s management when the organization was awarded the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, ran in the race seven times in the 1980s while working in the White House and at the Department of Energy.
  • Robert Zoellick, the World Bank President from July 2007 to June 2012, ran in 1985 with a team from the Treasury Department.
  • Robert Tuttle, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom from July 2005 to February 2009, ran in 1984 and 1985 with teams from the White House.

David Waller, second from left in bib #733, running in the 1982 Capital Challenge.

  • Mitch Daniels ran in 1981-82 for Sen. Richard Lugar’s team and in 2002-03 while serving as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He served as President of Purdue University from 2013 to 2022.
  • Rex Lee ran in 1981-1984 while serving as the U.S. Solicitor General. He served as President of Brigham Young University from 1989 to 1995.
  • Bill LaForge ran in 1984 for Sen. Slade Gorton’s team and in 1986-90 for Sen. Thad Cochran’s team. He served as President of Delta State University from 2013 to 2022.
  • Rep. Brian Baird ran in 2003-04 and 2010. He served as President of Antioch University Seattle from 2013 to 2015.

Mitch Daniels running in the 2003 Capital Challenge.

  • Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy ran in 1988 when he worked for Washington D.C. television station WRC. His son, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, ran in 2011 for a Fox team.
  • Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas ran in 2000. His brother, Sen. Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas, ran in 2000 and 2002.
  • Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota ran five times between 1987 and 2000. His wife, Associated Press journalist Kelly Daschle, ran in 1999 and 2009 for AP teams.

Sen. Tom Daschle competing in the 2000 Capital Challenge.

  • General James McConville became a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2019 when he began serving as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. He ran in 2010 and 2011 for U.S. Army teams.
  • Admiral Jonathan Greenert served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2011 to 2015. He ran for a U.S. Navy team in 2002.

General James McConville, standing fourth from right, before the 2010 ACLI Capital Challenge.

  • Bart Gordon was the fastest member of Congress in each of his 20 races between 1988 and 2009 when he served as a representative from Tennessee.
  • Gordon is the only member of Congress to ever break 17 minutes – 16:59 in 1995.

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