WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - Runners beat back the early-morning heat and humidity, here, as they watched their pacesetter blaze his way to a new course record during the 10-Mile Race Around Wheeler, June 13.

Capt. Shawn Dodge led the competition from start to finish, and did not appear the least bit winded as he smiled his way to a record time of 58 minutes, 10.1 seconds, breaking his 2008 record by four seconds.

Dodge, company commander, 732nd Military Intelligence Battalion, credited the event's other runners with pushing him during the competition.

"It's been an honor to run with them," said Dodge of the other 133 runners, made up of active duty, retired, Reservists and National Guard Soldiers, as well as adult family members and Department of Defense civilians.

The race began at 6:45 a.m. at Bunker Place and required participants to run two loops around the airfield before crossing the finish line at the football field.

Besides the humidity, most runners pointed to the Wheeler gulch area as particularly challenging. Beginning at the route's 1-mile marker, runners were required to descend to the lowest point of the airfield before beginning a 440-foot climb that topped off near Kunia Road - and to traverse that leg-weary stretch twice.

"The hill was horrible," said Capt. Deborah Ondrasik after the race.

"Well, the first time was OK," clarified husband Capt. Nick Ondrasik, who ran shotgun to his wife, "but the second time ... yes, it was unbearable."

Saturday's race also served as the Team Army-Hawaii qualifying event for the annual Army Ten-Miler, held in Washington, DC., Oct. 4. Dodge's win gives him and other qualifiers the opportunity to defend Team Army-Hawaii's 2008 title in the Active Duty Mixed division.

Dodge vowed that new team members would not disappoint their fans.

"I guarantee another win this year," stated Dodge, who will again serve as head coach of the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii team.

Other top finishers who immediately qualified for Team Army-Hawaii 2009 include Capt. John Mozer (2nd place overall, 59:51.4), Sgt. Sam Ngatia (3rd place overall, 1:01:38.5), and 1st Lt. Valerie Aquino (1st place among women, 17th overall, 1:11:18.3).

Mozer, a nurse at Tripler Army Medical Center, did not participate in last year's Army Ten-Miler competition. Dodge said, "But he'll be a great asset for this team this year."

Race director Jim Perry said six roster spots will be available on the team, but positions will not be finalized until sometime in the summer. He added that qualified active duty Soldiers must also receive their commander's approval before their spots on the team can be guaranteed.

The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation organized the 10-Mile Race Around Wheeler, with assistance from its Sports Office and Leisure Activities staff.