DSCR fire chief joins USA team for ITU Duathlon World Championship

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

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Don Rodgers, Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond, Virginia’s fire chief, competed on the USA Team June 4-6 in the International Triathlon Union’s Duathlon World Championship held in Avilȇs, Spain. Rodgers was one of approximately 60 competitors in his 50- to 54-year-old age group competing in the sprint distance duathlon.  The event consists of a 5-kilometer run; followed by a 12-mile bike ride, and concludes with a 2.5km run.

Rodgers said he was inspired to compete for the USA Team after his wife, Jan, competed in a Triathlon with the team in Canada in 2014 and a couple of his friends also competed on that level.  Rodgers chose to qualify in the duathlon series because he’s stronger at running than swimming.

“I wanted to do it before I was too old or to slow, thought I did meet one man while I was there who competed in the 80-85 age group,” he said.  “We were also able to see the Paraduathlon race while in Spain.  It was very inspirational to watch so many athletes compete in that event.”

Rodgers has been competing in triathlons since 2005 competing from sprint distance all the way to the Ironman distance.  “I started doing serious structured duathlon training in January [2016] with a local coach, John Turner, who is passionate about training,” said Rodgers.  “I trained for the duathlon six days a week focusing on running, biking and strength training.  My rest day was usually my 24-hour workday at the firehouse.”

To qualify for this year’s world championship, he had to be in the top 18 qualifiers in the nation.  Rodgers qualified in a national event in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2015 for the 2016 world championship.

“Of course I was excited after finishing the event. I wasn’t sure when I finished, but I thought I had qualified,” he said.

Rodgers said to have a chance to represent the USA is an opportunity that not everyone has and it was exciting to represent the USA. Rodgers was one of 65 team members, and the USA was one of 32 countries competing this year’s world championship.

“To be part of the Parade of Nations, give out U.S. Flags as we marched through the streets of Aviles and be asked for my autograph on the international stage was amazing,” he said. “While my finish time wasn’t my best, I was proud to be selected for the team, to represent the U.S.”

Rodgers is planning on taking a year off from competing, but is planning on training seriously again with an eye toward qualifying for the 2018 world championship in Demark.

Even though he won’t be training for serious competition, Rodgers said he will continue with his workouts and urges everyone to be physically active.

The ability to adopt and sustain healthy behaviors is part of the DLA enterprise resiliency model.  DLA senior leaders recognize that strong bodies help to build strong minds and to build a workforce that is able to deal effectively with change and multiple tasks even under adversity or uncertainty.    To help encourage physical activity, the agency developed the DLA Wellness and Fitness Program that allows employees three hours weekly for physical and wellness activities.

As fire chief, Rodgers feels obligated to set an example for his firefighters.  “It is a stressful job,” he said.  “Getting a hard workout helps relieve stress. It is also a getaway time for me.  Working out gives me a chance to reflect or get my thoughts together for the day.”

Rodgers said almost everyone is goal-oriented, so physical activity or training for an event gives people something to aim for. He urges those employees interested in triathlons or duathlons to find a local club to train with or to research online training programs.