The Army has Soldiers who are great runners, good runners and not so good runners. Capt. Shawn Dodge, company commander, Headquarters and Operations Company, 732nd Military Intelligence Battalion, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, is a great runner.
Because of his accomplishments and running ability, Dodge was named the Army's male Athlete of the year in an awards presentation at the Association of the United States (AUSA) Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in March.
What makes Dodge's story different and special is how and when the running bug bit him.
Most great runners like world champions Amy Yoder-Begley and Steven Prefontaine - Dodge's running hero - start out early in the sport. They ran track and field in high school and then trained in college before going professional. Those who didn't go pro simply continued their love for the sport in their own time. Dodge did not follow either of these scenarios. It wasn't until after he graduated college and joined the Army in June of 2000 that he even became interested in the sport. Fast forward five years and he is competing on the world running stage.
Born in Spokane, Wash., Dodge describes his family as not very athletic. After high school he attended the University of Oregon on a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. He was commissioned in the National Guard upon graduating. Later he became a member of the Active Guard and Reserve Program and is now an activated officer.
While training at Fort Lewis, Wash., Dodge's days of not being athletic changed. Through the help of some knowledgeable friends, Dodge developed a love for running.
"I realized that running was an event on the (Army Physical Fitness Test) that most are not good at; I was not good at anything else," Dodge said jokingly. "I trained with a lot of very smart people who motivated me to run."
And run he did. Dodge currently averages 70 to 80 miles per week and has competed in prestigious races such as the Boston Marathon, the Marine Corp Marathon, the Republic of Singapore's 17th Annual Singapore Army Half Marathon and the Army Ten-Miler.
Dodge has also been a member of the All Army Marathon Team and the All Army Ten-Miler Team competing in the International Division.
"Running has been so much fun for me; and I happen to be good at it," he said. "(Through running) I get an inner peace that can be found nowhere else, and a feeling of being fit."
As an AGR Soldier, Dodge sees his selection for male Army Athlete of the Year as continued proof that no matter the component, all Soldiers fighting in the Army are the same.
"The Army Reserves are training, deploying and interacting with the Active components more and more. It is becoming evident that we are all in one Army," he said referring to the change in attitudes from the old days when Guard and Reserve Soldiers were thought of as less superior to that of their Active duty counterparts.
"I have enjoyed every Army experience I have had and I'm glad that I was able to represent the Army as a reserve officer."
Supporting and cheering Dodge all the way in his career and hobby is his wife Danielle and two-year-old son, Tyler.
What impresses Danielle most about her husband is his devotion to the sport, his job and his family.
"Shawn can handle so many things on his plate at one time with such grace and excellence," she said about her husband of six years.
"He will wake up at 4 a.m. to get a good run in, still do PT with his Soldiers, spend a full day at work giving 100 percent to his job and to his Soldiers, then come home and run all around the house playing with our toddler as if he hasn't been up and working for the last 14 hours," she explained. "He doesn't do anything halfway - whether it's being a Soldier, an athlete, a husband, or a father, he gives everything he has to every part of his life."
Additionally, she said that her husband is incredibly dedicated and loyal. Two qualities the Army strives to instill and develop in its Soldiers. These qualities are also a must when you're representing the Army as the Army's male Athlete of the Year.
"Shawn is in the Army because he loves his country and is so proud to serve," Danielle said. "He is not the type of person to do something halfway, so instead of just doing casual jogs to stay in shape, Shawn worked and trained relentlessly and has evolved into the incredible athlete that he is."
Not only is Dodge's wife proud of his accomplishments, but so is his Brigade Commander, Christopher Ballard who said Dodge and 1st Lt. Kelly Calway - who was name the female Army Athlete of the year for 2008, and also a member of the 500th MI Brigade - were not only great leaders and role models, but terrific intelligence officers as well. "We are very proud of them both."
Editor's Note: Danielle gave birth to their second son, Ryan Andrew, April 23. Congratulations!