- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2008

Most politicians run for office. D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty runs in office — that is, when he’s not biking or swimming.

“I just don’t think he could do what he does and have the degree of energy and discipline if he didn’t have this fitness regime,” said acting D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles, a longtime Fenty family friend and veteran of the three-day Ultraman race in Hawaii. “And he’s good. You’re not talking about a guy who just sort of lazes out there and does a little walking or jogging.”

Mr. Fenty’s pedal-to-the-metal workout regimen animates his style of government.

It’s a routine and race docket that takes Mr. Fenty, 37, through the trees of Rock Creek Park and along the Potomac River, near the Whitehurst Freeway and around the area’s myriad landmarks - even outside the District’s borders.

As mayor, he is known for crisscrossing the city to be at the scene of fires, shootings and groundbreaking ceremonies, and pushing for a results-based government to improve D.C. services.

But Mr. Fenty’s hard-core habits result in much more than physical fitness. His routine also provides serenity through sweat.

“It’s a great release from the normal hustle and bustle, and also keeps your heart pumping,” Mr. Fenty said.

Approaching the close of his second full year in office and nearing two years shy of 40, Mr. Fenty shows no signs of letting up, his persistence reminiscent of a door-to-door mayoral campaign that helped him win all of the District’s 142 precincts in 2006.

During the summer months, the mayor still rises early twice a week for hour-long runs and spends one morning each week doing speed training.

He still blocks out time during the week for swimming and cycling - part of his more recent focus on competing and excelling in numerous triathlons held around the D.C. area and elsewhere.

And he still can be seen taking a swig of Vitamin Water on occasion.

“It tastes pretty good and is a good source of vitamins and electrolytes,” Fenty spokeswoman Tracy Sandler said.

Mr. Fenty’s love affair with fitness can be traced directly back to his childhood. His brother, Shawn, recalled playing sandlot football and riding bikes with his younger sibling, who showed his competitive edge by pedaling up a hill that others preferred to walk.

“He would just refuse to quit and let the hill beat him,” said Shawn Fenty, 43.

The mayor ran competitively in high school, but also fostered a love for running out of necessity. As a 10th-grader, he got off work at a local ice cream store too late to catch a bus home.

His solution? Pound the pavement.

“That’s when I started running,” Mr. Fenty told NBC TV (Channel 4). “I picked it up and have been doing it ever since.”

His father and mother, Phil and Jan, also were runners. They own the running store Fleet Feet in Adams Morgan, where Shawn Fenty also works.

Phil Fenty said the father and son ran their first marathon together when Adrian was 15. The elder Fenty said his son previously took running more casually, but that the mayor has been pushed by the elite athletes he has trained with in recent years.

Now, he “wants to test how fast he can run and swim and bike, and he’s enjoying it a lot,” Phil Fenty said.

“It gives him a chance to be out with some other people exercising and participating without having to be the mayor,” he said. “I’m sure he enjoys that tremendously. He loves being the mayor, but he also loves being an athlete.”

Mr. Fenty’s focus on running has expanded of late. After competing in the 2003 Marine Corps Marathon - finishing in a time of 4:44:22 - the mayor hoped to trim down his running routine while also staying trim.

Enter an interest in triathlons, something Shawn Fenty also said was sparked in his brother after a vacation in Maine with a friend who had a bicycle.

“So I jumped back in the pool, got a new bike and I’ve been doing all three ever since,” Mr. Fenty said.

Mr. Fenty accompanies his brother and others on twice-weekly rides of about 30 miles, but his triathlon training had some setbacks over the summer.

In July, Mr. Fenty suffered a hairline fracture in his foot while playing beach football with his twin sons, Matthew and Andrew. He participated in a triathlon in New York City two weeks later, but skipped the running portion of the race.

Then, on July 30, Mr. Fenty lost control of his racing bike during a training session and crashed, aggravating his fractured left foot and giving him serious scrapes and bruises.

The accident forced Mr. Fenty to miss several days of work to recover, but didn’t stop him from participating in the Nation’s Triathlon on Sept. 14 in the District.

The mayor’s performance suffered in the race - he finished 150th out of 1,443 male participants after finishing 96th out of 571 in 2007.

Mr. Fenty said he was forced to miss some crucial training time because of the injury, but noted that the race course was different and said his percentage placement among the field of finishers was similar in both years.

“From what I could tell it was about the same,” Mr. Fenty said. “I will say though that … I missed about a month of running, swimming and biking in there.”

Mr. Fenty said he has been getting stronger as each race approaches. He was scheduled to compete in the 25th annual Make-A-Wish Triathlon in Bethany Beach, Del., on Saturday.

Since March, he has competed in a total of eight marathons or triathlons.

“These kind of things, they tend to be in a person’s nature …,” Shawn Fenty said. “I think it’s a real important outlet for him.”

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