Runners break from the start of the 40th Annual Madison Courier Firecracker 10K Run (top) at Madison Consolidated High School. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Runners break from the start of the 40th Annual Madison Courier Firecracker 10K Run (top) at Madison Consolidated High School. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
The Switzerland County cross country coach-protege duo of Kris Sandlin and Leah Anders were hoping to sweep the 40th Annual Madison Courier 10K Run Saturday.

Anders held up her end of the deal as the top female but Sandlin’s bid for a fifth overall victory was derailed by another former winner when 2012 champion Jeremy Johnson, of Austin, blitzed Sandlin and everybody else by more than a minute for his Regatta weekend victory.

Johnson, 24, was the overall winner with a time of 31:01 to Sandlin, 26, who was the runner-up in 32:10 in a race contested under almost ideal weather conditions.

Johnson and Sandlin, both originally from Scott County, know each other well and have nearly a decade of racing history together. The former Austin Eagle and Berea College standout Johnson and Scottsburg Warrior and Franklin College standout Sandlin have been running rivals since high school as well as great friends and both love running the Courier 10K.

“I love racing in this race. My dad used to run it 30 years ago and my brother (Jeffrey) won here in 2008. There is a lot of history with this race being on Regatta weekend.” said Johnson. “Kris and I have known each other for a while. He was a year older than me and I don’t recall ever beating him in high school. It’s been eight to nine year years going and it was good to see him here.”

“(Johnson) has been getting himself back into shape here recently,” Sandlin said. “He’s a really good competitor — a great friend of mine. We talk to each other all the time. We’ve gotten together for some runs and we’ve known each other since we both started running in high school and we still run with each other.”

Anders, a senior to be at Switzerland County and a cross country state finalist last year, was surprised before the race started when her grandfather, Mike Williams, signed up for his first 10K race.

“I knew he was going to come down here and watch me but this morning he handed me an envelope that had his registration in it — so it was really exciting,” Anders said. “It’s really fun to run here and it was exciting to win.”

Anders ran a 41:33 — more than a minute faster than last year — but said she didn’t necessarily change her training from a year ago when she was the female runner-up after winning her gender group in 2016.

“I haven’t done any hard workouts so everything was pretty much the same,” Anders said. “I don’t really change things up a whole bunch for a 10K race.”

Sandlin and Anders have alternated 10K wins the last three years, but pulling off a sweep will have to wait another year.

“We talked about it before and we both were thinking that it would be really nice to win the 10K together,” Anders said.

Sandlin, Anders’ cross country coach, was impressed with her huge time cut over last year’s race. “She cut her time by over a minute after finishing last year in 42:35,” he said. “It could be a sign of big things to come in her senior year.”

A total of 193 runners — 109 males and 84 females — competed in the run and another 78 walkers participated including 24 males and 54 females.