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StarBulletin.com

On the run


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POSTED: Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In any given footrace, Capt. Kelly Calway can usually leave her fellow soldiers in the dust, but the Hawaii resident would rather slog alongside them to help out as a mentor.

“;I hold workshops and do one-on-one training with my soldiers,”; says the military intelligence officer, 25, recently named the Army's 2008 female Athlete of the Year.

But all bets are off when it comes to the mandatory 2-mile-run fitness tests.

“;It's really fun when I beat all the boys,”; said Calway, assigned to Schofield Barracks' 500th Military Intelligence Brigade. “;No one expects it.”;

Even in the brutal, arid climate of Iraq, where Calway has been stationed since May, she trains seven to 15 miles per day with the goal of running the Honolulu Marathon in December at the end of her six-month deployment.

“;After putting in 16-hour days out here, it's hard to get up in the morning around 5 a.m. to run before it gets really hot,”; Calway said by phone. “;If I don't run, I know I will suffer for it. ... I get to work through my problems, think through issues and approach things from a different perspective.”;

As a new kid being teased at Webling Elementary School in Aiea, Calway found that running was a way to make friends. She joined the track team in the third grade and “;found my true passion,”; she recalls.

She did road races with her mother, blossomed under a high school coach and competed for four years on the varsity team at North Carolina State University.

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A self-described “;Army brat,”; Calway said she joined the Army three years ago after learning from her father, Brig. Gen. Robert Brown, about the importance of service to country and the joys of teamwork toward a common goal. Her father pinned on her silver bars when she was promoted to captain Aug. 1.

Last year a grueling schedule included juggling her Army duties, racing competitively, responsibilities as a coach and caring for a toddler with her husband away. But Calway said she was rewarded with the top-athlete award based on her accomplishments in several races in Hawaii and the annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

“;I was so shocked I was chosen, so proud and so humbled,”; she said. “;It was a tough year without my husband around.”;

Calway's husband, Capt. Christopher Calway, returned from 15 months in Iraq in March, and is caring for their daughter, Hazel, at their home in Mililani.

Being apart from family is a difficult reality a soldier must accept. “;We chose to make that sacrifice,”; said Kelly Calway. “;It's tough being away from my little one, but that's the sacrifice we make for freedom.”;

Calway said she talks several times a week with Hazel—who calls Iraq “;Eye-wak”;—but still misses her deeply.

“;I don't worry about returning safely. I worry more when my husband is gone. His job is to look for bombs and disable them. I know I'm going to make it back to my little baby.”;