WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 18, 2013) -- Twenty-four elite warriors are converging on Fort Lee, Va., for the Best Warrior Competition in which tough challenges will push their limits physically and mentally as they vie to be the best of the best.

The Soldiers will be at Fort Lee, Nov. 19-22, for the competition. Two winners -- the Army Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year and the Soldier of the Year -- will be announced Nov. 22.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III will oversee the competition.

The challenges include Army aptitude tests, conquering urban warfare simulations, land navigation, marksmanship, a board interview, physical challenges, a written exam, and battle drills relevant to today's operating environment.

The physical fitness challenge will include two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and a two-mile run.

Soldiers will also compete in a mystery event.

The warriors mastered a series of benchmarks and subordinate command competitions throughout the year to qualify. The competition is open to all active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.

"I chose to compete in the Best Warrior Competition because I wanted to push myself to the next level, and to see my true potential," said Sgt. Jacob Refugio Valderrama, with the 555th Engineer Brigade, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The competition puts the "best of the best" against each other, said Staff Sgt. Cory Schmidt, with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

"I believe this competition will be extremely challenging because of the high level of skill and professionalism among the competitors," said Schmidt. "Every event will be a very close battle for the title of Best Warrior."

The Soldiers represent 12 commands from across the Army. While women have competed previously in the Best Warrior Competition, only males made it to the finals this year.

Spc. Jesse Kane, with the U.S. Army Garrison Military Police Company at West Point, N.Y., looks forward to the board interview portion of the competition to demonstrate his knowledge of the Army.

The board, chaired by Chandler, consists of six senior sergeants major from across the Army.

"Getting direct feedback from the sergeant major of the Army will be something that most Soldiers will never get," said Kane.

With the rigors of training, being disciplined, and advancing this far, competitors said family is a source of inspiration.

"They are the ones who keep me going when I am running low on fuel," said Spc. Erik Eaton, with the Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

"Without their support and mentorship, I wouldn't be here today," he said.

The Best Warrior Competition had been scheduled for October, but the partial government shutdown and federal budget crisis forced it to be postponed.

The warriors represented in the competition are competing on behalf of these commands: U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Pacific Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, U.S. Army National Guard, and the National Capitol Region.