FORT BENNING, Ga., (Aug. 21, 2013) -- More than 25 runners turned out Friday at the Santiago Fitness Center for the final Army Ten-Miler qualifier with hopes of making the seven member Fort Benning team that will compete in Washington, D.C, Oct. 20.

Over the course of the three Ten-Miler qualifiers, more than 60 runners competed, which yielded some strong runners, said Lori Smith, race coordinator.

"We had quite a few good runners come out on the last qualifier," she said. "Overall, the turnout was pretty good and we had many really strong runners this year. It always amazes me to see how many turn runners we have on this installation."

Alexis Torre Santiago from B Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, was the first to cross the finish line in the final qualifier, completing the run in under 60 minutes.

"I came out here to represent my company and the Soldiers of Fort Benning," Santiago said. "And, I'm hoping to get that chance in October. It's a great opportunity."

Santiago, a native of Hope Mills, N.C., said he found the Sand Hill course challenging, but still expects to post a faster time if selected to compete in the Army Ten-Miler.

"I think (this course is) a good course," Santiago said. "It gives you a pretty good estimate because of the rolling hills … and you never get a chance to really relax. I would like to cut down to around 52 or 53 (minutes)."

Santiago said along with normal Army physical fitness, he also runs on his own.

"(I do) Unit PT and run on my own in the evenings when I get off work, usually on the RiverWalk," he said. "I start out at Flat Rock Park and run a few miles then turn around and come back … usually around five to seven miles."

Smith said this year's team will be comprised of a seven-member, all-male team.

"We only had one female come out and run … I was really hoping more females would come out and run," she said.

Once command approval is received from Soldiers selected, Smith said she will have a team meeting and go over travel plans, training plans, uniforms and other information.

"We do not do scheduled training sessions," she said. "I leave that up to the Soldiers. Everyone has enough requirements within their own organization. So the runners work within their units and command to get in training time. Many choose to link up with each other and do some long runs or speed work."

For runners that competed in the three qualifiers, the selection letter for this year's team should go out later this week and the team announced the first part of next week, Smith said.