Kristopher Sandlin approaches the finish line of the Madison Courier 10K in route to his third-straight overall win of the annual event. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Kristopher Sandlin approaches the finish line of the Madison Courier 10K in route to his third-straight overall win of the annual event. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)

After three straight wins, former Scottsburg and Franklin College distance runner Kristopher Sandlin is starting to know the way to the finish line of the Madison Courier 10K Run really well.

Sandlin, 23, literally cruised to victory on Saturday morning with a personal-best time of 31:12 in the event to beat out a massive field of 332 runners including his nearest competitor, Chase Ballard, 18, of Columbus, by 92 seconds.

The event, Sandlin’s third straight win, was his second consecutive over Ballard. The two had waged a tight duel in 2014 before Sandlin sprinted past Ballard going down Hanging Rock Hill and then held off the high schooler in the stretch for a three second win.

Ballard and Sandlin intended for Saturday’s race to play out the same way but in the end the only similarity was the order of finish after Ballard experienced leg cramps just 2 miles into the 6.2-mile race and fell well off Sandlin’s pace.

“Chase is a good runner and he and I talked before the race and he said “Let’s take it out quick and try to run something faster and make it a two-man race,’” Sandlin said. “That’s what we did until he started having the cramps. He had to be in a lot of pain to fall that far back. I ran two-thirds of the race all by myself but I never forgot that he could still be back there. He’s had a great senior season in high school and he was tough to beat a year ago.”

Sandlin’s 31:12 time was six seconds faster than he ran a year earlier with Ballard pushing him to the finish and far faster than his first win in 2013 when he clocked a 31:44 in a pouring rain to edge Danny Fisher by 17 seconds.

Sandlin said he actually had hoped to break 31 minutes Saturday but without Ballard there to keep pushing him, the faster time just did not come. The course record is 29:44 set in 1990 by then 21-year-old Cecil Franke, who is now joined by Sandlin as the only three-time overall winners on the course.

Saturday’s top female finisher was Kyla Thoman, 26, of Indianapolis, who finished 15th overall in 40:35 for her first win in the event. A former distance runner at Rensselaer Central High School and the University of Wisconsin, Thoman was the women’s runner-up in 2010 when she ran a 39:03.

Now an Indianapolis realtor, Thoman said she runs the event when she’s in town vacationing with her family at their cabin on Hanover Beach.

“I enjoy the race and its tradition,” Thoman said, noting she entered this year more for fun than a quest to be the top female but once the race started her competitive nature kicked in.

“I’m a little bit competitive so I still wanted to finish strong,” she said.

In addition to the 332 runners — 175 males and 157 females — there were 133 participants in the non-competitive walk where 91 females and 42 males tackled the same 6.2 mile course.

Steven Floyd, 60, of Bloomington was the first walker to compete the course in 1:07, a spot he’s held for several consecutive years.

The 10K, an official Madison Regatta event now in its 37th consecutive season, was held this year as a memorial to former Madison Courier publisher Jane Jacobs, who had headed up its organization since the race’s inception in 1979. Jacobs lost her battle with cancer in April and the race was renamed the Jane Jacobs Memorial Madison Courier 10K Walk/Run in her memory.

The official ceremonial starters this year were WAVE-3 news anchor Dawne Gee and former Madison Consolidated High School track, football and wrestling athlete Jordan Partee.

The event was contested under almost ideal weather conditions and there were no incidents reported involving any of the participants, said Madison Courier Publisher Curt Jacobs, who has taken over for his mother as organizer of the 10K along with a vast network of committee members and volunteers.

“The weather was great, the turnout was great and this was our first year of doing this after my mom ran it all the other years,” Jacobs said. “All things considered we thought it went well and we’re looking forward to next year.”

Full results will be published on The Madison Courier website at www.madisoncourier.com when they become available.