Dick Lugar is no longer the fastest man in the U.S. Senate — but he used to be.
“That was 25 years ago,” he told us Wednesday, as he caught his breath at the end of the ACLI Capital Challenge, a three-mile footrace at Hains Point. “It was usually Max Baucus in second, and Don Nickles third.”
We have a trade association to thank for our ability to compare the physical mettle of the nation’s top lawmakers: the American Council of Life Insurers, which has sponsored the annual race — which pits teams from Hill offices, federal agencies and media organizations against one another — for 30 years now. And the Indiana Republican has competed in each one of those 30 years.
At 79, Lugar is more likely to bring up the rear of the 500 or so runners these days, finishing in 44:40 this week after walking part of the way.
The fastest senator this year was John Thune, who has dominated that field for the last several years and improved his performance by 25 seconds over last year. (Even though he no longer had the footfalls of longtime rival, just-resigned John Ensign, to motivate him.) Freshman Kelly Ayotte was the fastest female senator at 26:40.
Rep. Aaron Schock (20:12) held on to his title as Fastest Congressman for a second year — helped, no doubt, by the retirement of six-minute-miler Bart Gordon. And Rep. Jean Schmidt seized her fifth consecutive title of Fastest Congresswoman. (Okay, she was the only congresswoman in the race this year — but still, 24:49, not bad for 59!)
It was, quite frankly, a miserable day for a footrace. Another senior senator, Harry Reid, slipped and fell in the rain that same morning while out for his own run (he did not compete in the ACLI), dislocating his shoulder. We wondered why Lugar has returned every year — and finished every time, including the year he pulled a muscle and virtually crawled to the line.
Well, obviously — because he can.
“I’m fortunate to have good health,” he said, “and the constituents of Indiana have been kind enough to send me back here, so I’m still eligible.”