Ryan Hall turns whistle blower at D.C.'s ACLI Capital Challenge

Olympian Ryan Hall joins 150 teams from the U.S. Government and D.C. media for the ACLI Capital Challenge 3-mile race. Photo: Sen. Kay Hagan-Rod Lamkey Jr/The Washington Times

NEW YORK, May 14, 2013— Olympian and American record holder Ryan Hall is getting political at the 32nd ACLI Capital Challenge, an annual running battle between members of the U.S. Government and the D.C. media. Hall will be on hand May 15 at 8:00 a.m. in Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia Park as the official starter of the 3-mile road race, better known in Capital Challenge lingo as the “official whistle blower.”

The race enjoys poking fun at Washington politics with humor. The usual race swag like finisher’s T-shirts are known as “entitlements” and registration fees are referred to as the “debt ceiling.”

The Capital Challenge has been lampooning partisan politics for a good cause since 1981, raising over $500,000 for charity. Last year, 700 runners raised $17,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, and in years prior the race collectively raised over $400,000 for Special Olympics District of Columbia.

The Wounded Warrior Project is again the beneficiary of the 2013 race. All of the $100-$125 “debt ceiling” entry fees will be donated to the charity. The race’s sponsors, lead by the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), cover the entire cost of putting on the race, and will make an additional donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The ACLI Capital Challenge aims to promote health and fitness by showcasing the nation’s political leaders who stay active.

“One of our goals is to promote healthy living inside the Beltway,” said race director and creator Jeff Darman in a press release. “We get many physically fit Washington luminaries who set an excellent example. Unfortunately, perhaps we are an anachronism bi-partisanship, as teams from both parties compete while displaying camaraderie and humor.”

Politicians, judges, agency workers and journalists compete on teams of five people from their news agency or respective branches of government—legislative, executive and judicial. A senator, representative, cabinet appointee, agency head, federal judge or journalist must captain each team and run the race.

More than 30 members of Congress will lead teams this year to represent the legislative branch. Almost 40 teams will represent the executive branch and nearly 15 teams will represent the judiciary. The media has fielded 65 teams. In all, 150 teams are competing from news outlets and government agencies as varied as the Senate, House of Representatives, US Navy, US Army, Census Bureau, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Education, NASA, FBI, US Court of Appeals and more.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) will return to defend her title as fastest female senator. She finished in 24:52 last year. Defending fastest male senator Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who won in 18:56 last year, is nursing a foot injury.

In addition to awards for the top teams and individuals in each branch, teams also compete for Best Spirit and the prestigious Best Team Name and James B. Kenin Worst Team Name honors.

Some early name favorites include “Ready, Set, Fargo,” lead by Sen. Heidi Keitkamp (D-N.D.), “Running Stimulates the Census” lead by Census Bureau program manager Doug Clift, “Federal Tread Commission” lead by Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill, “Take the Money & Run” lead by Department of Treasury Assistant Secretary Al Fitzpayne, “Our Presses Run Faster Than Us” lead by Jamey Fry of Washington Business Journal, “Fair & New Balanced” lead by Shannon Bream of Fox News Channel, “Race the Nation” lead by Margaret Brennan of CBS News, and “For Boston Inspired” lead by FBI Assistant Director Michael Kortan.

Every year, a celebrity athlete serves as “whistle blower” to start the race. Ryan Hall will have the honor this year. Last year’s official whistler blower was Olympic medalist and ING New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi. In years past, legendary runners like Dick Beardsley and Bart Yasso have blown the whistle. 

The 2013 ACLI Capital Challenge begins at 8 a.m. in Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia Park.

Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ web show about running. She has finished six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com, The Washington Times Communities, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Karla Bruning

Karla Bruning is the host of On The Run, a TV and web show from New York Road Runners. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, American Athlete Magazine, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Orlando Sentinel, and two dozen other outlets including ESPN2, Universal Sports and ABC in New York. She and her work have also received mentions from The New York Times, Runner's World, Fox Sports, Canadian Running, The Baltimore Sun, and PBS among others. She also covered the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver for The Washington Times.


A former Newsweek reporter, Karla has won a Fulbright scholarship for American journalists and reporting grants from the Scripps Howard, Carnegie and Knight Foundations. Karla holds degrees from Amherst College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


When not pounding the pavement as a reporter, Karla is pounding the pavement as a runner. She has completed seven marathons, four triathlons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. She is a writer, editor, and on-camera reporter dedicated to covering the sport of running from a runner’s perspective. Find Karla on RunKarlaRun.com, Twitter@KBruning, Facebook and Google+.

Contact Karla Bruning


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