On May 9th, four adventurous runners embarked on a journey never before attempted... Visit 27 EU Embassies and run 13 miles in six hours. What transpired became memories never to forget and friends forged forever.
We started at the German Embassy promptly at 10:00 in the remote western corner of the District. We were all excited about the start of the first ever EU 27-Embassy ten miler -- four of us -- courageous ones: Neal Carlton, Elizabeth Leasure, Ken Monroe, and me, Chito Peppler. The reception that we received at the German Embassy was even more amazing.
The "E" Team standing in front of the German Embassy
We were met by the spokesman for the German Embassy, Mr. Ulrich Sante, as well as Ms. Anna Schiller, and 1st Lieutenant Rainer Seidenstuecker. Ulrich hooked us up with ballcaps, backpacks, T-shirts and pins. Then we held a brief media event emphasizing the close German-American relations from the Berlin airlift to the fall of the Berlin Wall today with the anniversary coming up later this year.
The author with 1st Lt (German Air Force) Rainer Seidenstuecker. (Rainer and I worked together the previous week on the visit of GEN Karl-Heinz Lather.)
After the interview, we were given a tour of the state-of-the art embassy and beautiful grounds that included an exhibit on German-Jewish Heritage, important artifacts of German-Jewish history which became open to the general public for the very first time today.
Next came arguably the best food this side of town -- the bratwurst and Deutsches bier was appealing to the palate (though I knew I would later regret the early indulgence) and the beautiful German and Bavarian costumes were bright and beautiful to admire (made me have second thoughts about even starting the run). But the Germans rallied behind us and sent us their zealous well wishes: "Viel Glück!" (Good Luck)
We so desperately needed those words of encouragement -- we were on a mission today and no matter how good Germany was to us and how badly we wanted to stay, we had 26 other fantastic embassies ahead of us. But before we set off on the long and windy road, we had one more for the road. Prost! (Cheers). I love Germany especially German beverages -- need to stay hydrated for the run.
The run started out on a full stomach -- nutrition that I didn't quite need before the run. Thank goodness, it was mostly flat (unlike my tummy). And of all places, we were heading to the land - famous for wine and cheese.
The French Embassy is across the street from the Georgetown Medical Center
Neal and Elizabeth took a fancy to the cream cheese on French bread waving the patriotic flag.
I took a fancy (of course) to finding the French military attache. The American and French military work side-by-side
Our third stop--the house of Sweden, is a beautiful building with sophisticated charm and simple design. After walking through a glass entrance, you enter a magnificent reception hall with huge windows overlooking the Potomac. I personally think they have one of the best locations, (nothing beats the Georgetown waterfront), if not the best views.
Neal and Elizabeth in front of the Embassy.
The location and views of the Potomac and Roslyn across the river are Magnificent and simply out of this world.
The Swedes embraced us (well not quite, since we were all sweaty by now). But they did allow me to get close enough to take a picture.
Beautiful interior with soft wood panels and glass. Ken and I are admiring the design (in the background).
The Swedish cookies, chocolate and pastries were fantastically tasty -- like nothing I ever tried in Ikea -- just the nutrition we needed to energize our run. Plus they made my eyes water just by looking.
A little jazz for motivation before the group (in the background) gears up for the next leg. The Swedes tell us "Lycka till" and we cheerfully press on for the next 24 (Embassies, that is).
After the French wished us "Bonne Chance", we pushed on along Reservoir Road. When we were within sights of Wisconsin, my heart lept for joy -- it was all downhill to K.
Georgetown along Wisconsin is very vibrant with upscale shops, bars and restaurants. Every now and then if you're lucky, you might even spot a celebrity -- and you wouldn't believe who Neal first spotted as we were running at record pace on a steep downhill --- no, not Ben Affleck or Russell Crowe.
That's right -- Stephen Spielberg who was in town to attend the National Press Club event with the President. The photo op was not exactly part of our original plan -- but who's complaining. Spielberg, himself, was amazed by hearing about our adventure. We had to get a pic and yes, we were star-struck.
We move along K Street at a good pace, passing panhandlers and pedestrians. We past the Kennedy Center to our right and charge on towards Foggy Bottom and the prestigious George Washington University towards Washington Circle.
As expected, the lines for Spain were too long to hack, so we had to settle for this picture in front of the door and plaque.
And this vigilant guard stood between us and the entrance.
I've never been to Malta, although in 1995, my ship, the USS O'Bannon (DD-987) passed very close to there (on the way to Naples of course). I love the Mediterranean and any country that is essentially an island in the middle of the Med -- I'm huge fan of.
And so are Neal and Elizabeth, for that matter. Here Neal has a mouthful of Maltese date cakes. Mine is also in my mouth as I take this pic (just past noon, and we already our share of lunch).