GRAFENWAfaEUR"HR, Germany - The top two qualifiers for the Army Europe 10-Miler race held here May 31 will be leading a 12-Soldier team later this year during the service's annual premier run.

Vilseck's Capt. Joel Steward took first place in the men's division while Heidelberg's Sgt. 1st Class Lori Nix claimed the women's title, as 117 participants entered the qualification run that determined the six men and women active-duty Soldiers who will represent the Army in Europe during the national Army 10-Miler Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C.

Steward crossed the finish line first overall with a time of 56 minutes, 25.84 seconds. The 33-year-old father of three - who ran his first 10-miler while serving in Mosul, Iraq, in 2006 - was pleased with his time as he battled chest congestion a week prior to the race.

Nix was the first woman to qualify for the D.C. race as she clocked 75:26.32.

The first women overall was Sabine Pullins of Bamberg, with a time of 69:08.

Steward's teammates on the men's team are: Pfc. Jason Williams, Heidelberg (59:36.29); 1st Lt. David Aamidor, Wiesbaden (60:00.55); Sgt. 1st Class Walter Johnston, Heidelberg (61:18.27); Staff Sgt. Christian Cash, Grafenwoehr (63:53.76); and Maj. Paul Ryan, Heidelberg (64:28.89).

Joining Nix on the women's team are: Sgt. 1st Class Melissa Novakovich, Benelux (81:05.66); Lt. Col. Laura Landes, Stuttgart (81:37.16); Capt. Gladys Agilbot, Mannheim (84:50.28); Maj. Sarah Albrycht, Grafenwoehr (93:29.86); and Master Sgt. Carolina Boudreaux, Ansbach (102:55.02).

Although she has finished four marathons, Novakovich was competing in her first 10-miler this year. "I've run a lot of races," she said. "But I was worried about running 10 miles ... I did not know what pace to run."

U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Command Sgt. Maj. William Berrios noted the course, which was modified this year to ensure safety and not disrupt the community activities on post, was hilly and tested the runners.

"I'm glad we got the opportunity to change the course," said Tony Lee, USAG Grafenwoehr Morale, Welfare and Recreation chief of recreation programming. "The (new) course saved manpower and provides more of a challenge."

With the additional hills, Lee said, the course is now more comparable to the one that runners will face stateside.

"This course gives competitors a good feel, in terms of where they're at on fitness level," said Stuttgart's Maj. Gen. Ken Keen, who competed at Grafenwoehr this year and has participated in more than 10 Army 10-milers. "It will serve them well in terms of the competition in D.C.," he added.

Steward found the course suited him, as "The first couple of miles are flat and there was a little bit of shade," he said.

Steward, Nix and their Soldier-teammates will have more than three months to prepare for the national race, where an expected 26,000 runners will assemble for the nation's largest 10-mile running event. The route begins and ends at the Pentagon, wandering past national monuments, the Smithsonian and the United States Capitol building.