By Sekia Mangum
A year ago, I never thought I’d see myself running in a race, let alone a 5K. Not saying that I’m out of shape, because I work out often and I danced for Hampton University’s Majestic Dance Troupe, but the thought of actually competing against people who run all the time seemed a bit scary.
ACLI Capital Challenge held the 33rd annual 5K (just over 3 miles) team race Wednesday at Anacostia Park. I thought twice about agreeing to run with a team whose members I hadn’t even met when I first saw the email about the race. But then I said, “Hey, couldn’t hurt to burn a few calories.”
The morning of the race, I finally had a chance to meet the rest of the Scripps Scribes, our team name, and the other office team, Running on Deadline. Surprisingly, they were just as nervous as I was. I found out one of my teammates, Amarra Ghani, multimedia production assistant, had never run in a race, either!
So, by the time we arrived at the trail, I calmed down. We lined up and received our race numbers. About 10 minutes before the race, we lined up behind the starting line, and that’s when the nerves came rushing back.
They had us line up from fastest to slowest, and I immediately went to the back, simply because it was my first race so I wanted to observe everything. Most marathons I have seen on television start with a shot from a starter pistol, but this one had a whistle and it threw me off a bit.
I thought people would immediately start sprinting, but everyone was starting at a pretty decent pace, except the fast people in the front of course. I was thrilled when I found out the trail was extremely flat. Thankfully, they had markers each mile, so we were able to see how much we had completed.
About 100 teams of five people each, including at least one woman, ran the race. Each team included one member of Congress, or the Cabinet, or the vice president’s office, sub-cabinet, agency head, federal judge, on-air radio or TV journalist or print journalist.
Patrick Fernandez from team Coast Guard finished in first place with a time of 14:01. Before I even reached the water-stand checkpoint, Fernandez was sprinting back to the finish line. The first place female runner, Erin Taylor from Human Capitol Running Club, finished with a time of 17:43.
Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., were the top congressional finishers – Portman at 25:04 and Hagen at 35:15
Other runners were recognized with awards for placing and their participation.
All of my teammates from the Scripps News Bureau finished in 30 to 35 minutes. The one that brought the team together, Bartholomew Sullivan, who covers Washington for the company’s West Coast papers, was the first to finish from our team with a time of 24:01. Out of 30 print media teams, my team came in 19th place, while my colleagues’ Running on Deadline team finished 29th.
By the last mile I was very tired, but I kept pushing. With about half mile left, I sprinted to the finish line completing the race at 32:42. The best part was that they provided food and water for us after. I will definitely look forward to other races in the future.