Army veteran from Sunset to run Ogden Marathon after recovering from Iraq attack

May 20, 2016

It will be easy to spot Arlo Doyle in the Ogden Marathon.

In addition to his long goatee, pony tail and partially shaved head — the kilt really makes the distance runner from Sunset stand out.

But despite his unique appearance, the story of Doyle’s marathon is best summed up by the simple red shirt that he runs in — emblazoned with an eagle and the words “Team RWB.”

“I used to run in the military all the time,” Doyle said.

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For 12 ½ years Doyle served in the Army. That is where he began running, both as a key part of training but also as a hobby.

During his time in the military, he was deployed four times around the Middle East. Doyle had nearly completed his last tour in Iraq when his life took a turn.

“I was waiting to leave the country and there was a mortar attack on the base that I was at,” he said. “The building I was in had a 60mm mortar hit it and I was about 10 to 15 feet from where it exploded at.”

Doyle has physically recovered from the attack, but he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and was medically retired from the military in 2013.

“When I was injured in Iraq, for a long time I couldn’t run so I kind of had to pick it back up again just to get back into shape,” Doyle said.

It was around the time of the Ogden Marathon in 2015 that Doyle began getting serious about running. It was also around that time that a coworker at the VA in Salt Lake City pointed him to Team Red, White and Blue, a veterans social group built around physical and social activities.

On the Tuesday before the Ogden Marathon, around a dozen people met at Peak Performance running store for a jog along the Ogden River. The weekly meet-up is one of several activities put on with the Northern Utah wing of Team RWB. While there are other veterans joining Doyle before the run, much of the group is made up of people with no military background.

Arlo Doyle laces up his shoes before a group run along the Ogden River with Team RWB on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Doyle began running in the Army but stopped for years after being injured in Iraq.
BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner

As compared to other groups, Team RWB is specifically designed for veterans and civilians to interact side by side.

“Hanging out with a bunch of veterans talking about war stories is fine, but that’s not the only thing that you should be doing,” Doyle said. “ A lot of veterans complain that civilians don’t necessarily understand them. Civilians sometimes complain that they don’t understand veterans. Team Red, White and Blue kind of offers a happy median.”

Team RWB has chapters around the country. The Salt Lake City group has around 400 members and near daily meet-ups for running, boxing, rock climbing and more. The Northern Utah group is newer but currently hosts weekly runs and a free monthly crossfit class.

Before the runners leave Peak Performance, Doyle is joined by Bill Turner, an Air Force veteran who helps organize the Team RWB events in Ogden and Syracuse. For Turner, the activities are about more than community interaction or fitness.

“Physical activity is the key to mental health,” Turner said. “How many veterans die a day due to suicide? Twenty-two.”

Since the mortar attack in Iraq, Doyle has been working through his own battle with post traumatic stress disorder.

“Physical health helps a lot with the mental health,” Doyle said.

As he takes part in the group run on Tuesday night, he jogs with his service dog, Odin, at his side.

“Despite what you’re going through and dealing with, running lets you know it’s still possible,” Doyle said.

Saturday, May 21, will mark Doyle’s first attempt at the Ogden Marathon and third marathon in the past year. His goal is to complete 26.2 miles in five hours after running the recent Salt Lake Marathon in around five hours and 40 minutes.

And he’ll be doing it all in a kilt.