Republican US Senate candidate Gabriel E. Gomez, hoping to showcase his physical prowess on the campaign trail, will run the Boston Marathon, just two weeks before the primary on April 30.
"My goal is to start it and finish it and have as much fun as I can," he said Monday, adding that he would not pass up the opportunity to campaign along the route. "I'm sure I'm going to be shaking hands during the race."
Gomez, 47, a private equity investor and former US Navy SEAL from Cohasset, said he qualified for the April 13 race by running the 2011 Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon in Hampton, N.H., in 3:22, just under the 3:25 he said was needed for runners in his age group.
He said that training for the marathon has been a wise use of his time and energy, even in the midst of a highly compressed special election season. He said he usually gets up at about 4:30 or 5:30 a.m. and runs before hitting the campaign trail. He has already completed his long runs of 20 miles and has begun tapering off training. Monday morning, he said, he ran 7 miles.
"It's one of the things that clears my mind and relaxes me," he said. "It's like my release."
In taking on a 26.2-mile race in the midst of a campaign, Gomez joins a long list of candidates who have tried to mix politics and athletics, with varying degrees of success.
Scott Brown was known for running triathlons and boasting about his workout routines.
Mitt Romney invited reporters to run with him along the Charles River during the 2002 governor's race. In the 2008 presidential race, he aired an ad that showed him jogging through the woods, shoes pounding the pavement, face beaded with sweat.
John F. Kerry liked to bike, snowboard, and windsurf, a sport that backfired on him when the GOP ran an ad during the 2004 presidential race that showed him sailing back and forth and accused him of voting "whichever way the wind blows."
President Carter also stumbled in athletics. In 1979, he collapsed while running a 6.2-mile road race, in what became a symbol of his troubled term in the White House.
Gomez said he signed up for his first Boston Marathon months ago, before he decided to enter the special election to replace Kerry. He said he has run five marathons before and is not worried about making it through the notoriously hilly route from Hopkinton to Copley Square.
"I"m extremely excited," he said. "I've heard this is kind of like the marathon to run, and it's not something I could pass up."
The March fund-raising haul gives the at-large councilor, so far the only declared major candidate, almost $200,000 since the beginning of the year, according to the campaign and state finance records. On Feb. 28, he Connolly had about $335,000 in his account.
The March numbers are evidence of Connolly's head start on the rest of the field, whose prospective members are spending the early days of the wide-open campaign assessing their own chances and who else might run.
"I built a swing set with my kid and spent it with my family," said state representative Jeffrey Sanchez, who is considering a mayoral bid, when asked what he did over the weekend.
Quietly, though, potential candidates have been meeting with activists and strategists in advance of a rapidly approaching milestone on the municipal election calendar: April 17, the first day candidates can apply for nomination papers.
At least one local politician who has been the subject of widespread speculation has decided against it.
Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral, who lives in Jamaica Plain, categorically ruled out a run Tuesday, saying, "I'm not doing it."
Cabral, appointed to her public safety post by Governor Deval Patrick after working as Suffolk County sheriff, said she intended to keep a promise to the governor.
"I committed to the governor that I would be here for two years," she said. "I'm his public safety secretary. And I meant that when I said it."