Posted: March 13, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, who never met a competition he did not love, discovered over the weekend that the one contest he cannot win is the showdown against the tag team of Father Time and himself.

In politics Carper's internal fire has given him the record for the most statewide wins in Delaware history with 12, and it is no surprise that someone who always dreamed of playing third base for the Detroit Tigers would drive himself in sports the same way.

He played Saturday in a charity volleyball game with his fellow Democrats, losing to the Republicans in an Easter Seals tournament at the University of Delaware. Then he ran Sunday in the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon, a 13.1-mile course mostly through Wilmington.

The result was typical for a Baby Boomer who turned 60 in January. Carper was left with a broken foot. A metatarsal gave out in his right one, and he is hobbling around now in a medical boot, according to Bette Phelan, the communications director for his Senate office.

Carper felt something happen during the volleyball game but decided to run the half marathon, anyway. After all, it was his 25th, and the American Lung Association of Delaware, the race sponsor, had given him bib #25 to wear. He stepped on a pebble about a mile into the run, and the foot went.

Carper gutted it out, churning out 8 1/2-minute miles, his customary pace that puts him in the middle of the pack of about 1,200 runners. Then he did what he always does -- stand at the finish line for another hour or so and congratulate the rest as they cross. (He shook this writer's hand at 2 hours and 18 minutes.)

Carper told his communications director, "It was the worst half marathon I've run in 25 years, but it's the best that I've run on a broken foot." 

The next time Carper has multiple requests to participate with local charities, maybe he ought to send a check.