Top overall and male winner Oliver Book. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Top overall and male winner Oliver Book. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
An 18-year-old Providence High School graduate and a 28-year-old former Goshen College runner were the top male and top female finishers in the 31st annual Madison Courier 10K Run on Saturday morning.

The race, an official Madison Regatta Festival event, was contested under cloudy and cool conditions with a field of 281 runners competing.

Oliver Book, an 18-year-old 2009 graduate of Providence from Starlight, Ind., was the overall winner with a time of 33:01.23, edging Eugene Combs, 26, of Freetown, by just under 23 seconds.

Heidi Saunders, 28, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., who recently relocated to Madison, was the top female runner and 13th overall with a time of 37:50.70, a time that was almost 2:30 faster than Chelsea Stephan, 16, of Madison. Stephan, a standout cross country and distance track athletic for Madison Consolidated High School ran a 40:43.46.

The two winners were both first-time competitors in the 6.2-mile road race.

Book, a state finals qualifier in both cross country and the 1,600 meters in track, will be a freshman and run for the University of Cincinnati next fall. Book said the win was his first in a 10K event and his time on Saturday was a personal best at that distance.

"I thought it was pretty awesome, really," Book said of the race. "I really like the downhill and the cliff. It's awesome. It's scenic and a nice course."

Saturday race was Book's first foray in the Courier 10K but he couldn't have spent much time soaking in the scenery. Book made a strong stretch run at the end to hold off Combs while Daniel Ricketts, 17, of Rolling Meadows, Ill., was third in 34:05.52 and defending race winner Jeffery Johnson, 19, of Austin, and his younger brother, Jeremy, 15, ran fourth and fifth, respectively, in 34:19.098 and 34:24.76.

The top Madison runner was former Shawe Memorial standout Kenny Leveille, 19, with a time of 38:13.66.

Although Saunders has been distance running for several years, Saturday was her first attempt in the Courier's annual Regatta Weekend road race. Saunders said she started of a little sluggish - perhaps due in large part to other Regatta Weekend festivities she participated in the night before - but came around at about the 3-mile mark and the ran her best mile on the extreme downhill portion on Hanging Rock Hill at about the fifth mile.

"I was feeling a little under the weather at the outset," Saunders said. "I guess you could say that I had enjoyed the Regatta night life. I was fully awake in my run by the third mile. But it's a great run. I don't run 10Ks - I'm a 5K runner - so this is my first 10K I've run in probably like four years."

In addition to Saunders and Stephan, Cindy Harris, 40, of Indianapolis ran third among the women and 30th overall with a time of 42:05.90 while former Southwestern standout athlete Catherine Graham, 24, of Hanover, was fourth among the women and 37th overall in 42:40.06 and Traci Falbo, 37, of Charlestown, rounded out the women's top five with a time of 42:50.52 that was 38th overall.

Three-time Madison Courier 10K winner Cecil Franke, the course record holder with a time of 29:44, served as the official starter of both the 10K walk and the run by firing the starters pistol and then joining the field. Franke, who recently retired from competitive running, finished 11th overall with a time of 37:24.62.