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Capital Health: ‘America’s Fittest Senator’ in 1988

Just how long has former Sen. Richard Lugar been running? So long that when Roll Call’s Capital Health profiled the Indiana Republican on Oct. 30, 1988, he had already been running for nearly two decades.

Lugar was a fixture of the Capital Challenge 5K. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)
Lugar was a fixture of the Capital Challenge 5K. This photo was taken in 2000, when he was presented with a collage of his time with the race. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Lugar’s regime of running 15 to 20 miles a week is part of an overall interest in fitness that began nearly 20 years ago,” Lucretia A. Marmon wrote. “Last month, Lugar was the first Senator to cross the finish line in the five-kilometer Nike Capital Challenge Race, beating such younger colleagues at Sen. Al Gore (D-Tenn). Lugar co-sponsored the race each year for the benefit of the Special Olympics. But Lugar is more than fast. He is in remarkable overall physical condition, as tough as the limestone for which his state is famous. There’s little doubt that he’s America’s fittest US Senator,” she continued.

Press aide Mark Helmke recounted for Marmon that, when the senator was traveling abroad in his capacity as Foreign Relations chairman, his office “would contact the US embassy to line up a companion runner. ‘You could usually find some Hoosier Marine guard who was eager and knew a good route,’ says Helmke, who confesses to getting the Senator lost during a workout in Tokyo.”

A long-time fixture of the Capital Challenge, which is now sponsored by ACLI (as well as Roll Call), Lugar continued running into his sixth and final term in the Senate. He lost a primary bid last year to Republican Richard Mourdock, ending his Senate career.

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