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Wearing a Cesar Chavez shirt, Casar becomes the ‘fastest man in Congress’

Newcomer draws on his track background at ACLI race, while Sinema goes out on a high note

Texas Democratic Rep. Greg Casar crosses the finish line at the ACLI Capital Challenge 3-mile race in Washington on Wednesday.
Texas Democratic Rep. Greg Casar crosses the finish line at the ACLI Capital Challenge 3-mile race in Washington on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Rep. Greg Casar earned the title of fastest man in Congress in this year’s soggy American Council of Life Insurers Capital Challenge. The Texas Democrat took the crown in a rain-soaked course east of the Anacostia River, replacing speedster Mike Gallagher, who resigned from the House in April.

Had Gallagher stayed around, the former Republican congressman would have needed to pick up the pace. Casar ran the 3-mile race in 19 minutes, 33 seconds — faster than Gallagher’s previous times from 2022 and 2023.

Casar, 35, was a former standout track and field runner at Houston’s Strake Jesuit College Preparatory school but said he hasn’t run competitively since then. His athletic pursuits now include rock climbing and preparing for the Congressional Baseball Game. He was a late entry in the annual run, which drew more than 500 people on Wednesday morning from all branches of the government, as well as members of the news media.

Full disclosure: CQ Roll Call was an official media sponsor, and this reporter competed in the race, in addition to running after government officials for quotes after it concluded.

Casar said he learned of the race last week and decided to jump in to see if he could unseat Gallagher. “I think it’s nice to see if we can take this back [from] the Republicans this time, and maybe the House later this year,” said Casar, who wore a T-shirt featuring the face of labor and civil rights icon Cesar Chavez.

Once again, Arizona independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema finished atop the standings as the fastest woman in Congress, clocking in at 23:07, according to unofficial chip results. But she called it a bittersweet moment, as it’s her last time running the race after consistently dominating the field.

Sinema said the rainy weather was a sign. “They’re crying. Who’s gonna win when I leave? Someone slower,” she said.

While she’s not running for reelection, she will be running plenty. Sinema said she’s in the midst of earning six stars for the Abbott World Marathon Majors and thrives on the competition. 

Only one senator joined Sinema in running Wednesday’s race. Indiana Republican Mike Braun, who is leaving the Senate to run for governor, earned the title of fastest male senator, clocking in at 40:48. It’s his first time competing.

When asked how he trained for the 3-mile course, Braun told Roll Call that his regimen was “zero preparation.” His goal was to move at a pace between 4 and 5 mph.

As the only male senator to run, Braun was the de facto winner in his category, but he said he still believes in the spirit of competition. “I think I’m the fastest mover here in the Senate,” he said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg crosses the finish line at Wednesday’s ACLI race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Members of the executive branch had a strong showing in the race. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients finished with chip times under 24 minutes.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough called the Biden administration a quick group. “I’ve run with [Buttigieg], and the dude kicked my ass,” he said. 

But the VA secretary was being modest. He beat Buttigieg by more than two minutes on Wednesday, with a time of 21:09.

Three of the nine Supreme Court justices ran in the race. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh beat out both Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson as the top runner on the highest court.

Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh finishes the race on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jack Miller of The Washington Post was the top finisher overall, with a time of 14:30. Morgan Foster of Rep. Greg Stanton’s office was the top female finisher, coming in at 16:49.

As is custom, competitors also tried to outdo one another with puntastic running-themed team names. The press swept the awards for the top three team names, with The New York Times on top for “News That’s Fit to Sprint.” The worst named teams included the AARP’s “Scrambled Legs.” 

Hosted by the trade association ACLI, the annual race benefits Junior Achievement USA, which offers financial literacy education to young people.

It’s now up to Casar to hold on to the title as fastest man in Congress for another year. The fleet-of-foot freshman had one thought about the race moving forward: “This is when your relative youth and inexperience actually works out in D.C.”

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