RECORD RUN: Kris Sandlin crosses the finishes line Saturday with his record fourth win in the Madison Courier Firecracker 10K Run. Sandlin, the winner in 2013, 2014 and 2015 broke a mark he held with Cecil Franke. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
RECORD RUN: Kris Sandlin crosses the finishes line Saturday with his record fourth win in the Madison Courier Firecracker 10K Run. Sandlin, the winner in 2013, 2014 and 2015 broke a mark he held with Cecil Franke. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
It took five years to get it done but Kristopher Sandlin finally ran past Madison Courier 10K Run record holder Cecil Franke on Saturday.

Sandlin had been tied with Franke with three career wins each since winning his third straight Courier 10K in 2015. He was denied a fourth consecutive win last year but there was no catching the former Scottsburg and Franklin College standout on Saturday.

Now a 25-year-old cross country and wrestling coach at Switzerland County High School, Sandlin ran the course in 33:31 Saturday under hot and humid conditions to score a 15-second win over 16-year-old runner-up Carter Leak of North Vernon. In winning his fourth 10K in five years Sandlin became the only person who has ever outrun Franke in any fashion on the first Saturday in July in Madison.

“It’s a really cool accomplishment but I was thinking about the other guy who was a three-time winner, Cecil Franke, and he’s just a stud,” Sandlin said, showing his respect to the course record holder and former career wins leader from Osgood. “He’s in a league of his own. He could have come out here and won it any time he wanted to — he could probably still win it. I’m just really blessed to come out here and win it four times.”

Sandlin’s four wins have all come in his running prime while Franke, a former distance runner at Ball State who owns the Madison course record of 29:44 as a 21-year old back in 1990, scored his final two Courier 10K back-to-back in 2005 and 2006 while in his mid-30s.

Sandlin said what the two runners have accomplished is not really comparable but he’s still pretty happy with the win considering that he is just now starting to again get serious about running after taking a year off after college.

“I’ve been training a little bit more but still not nearly where I wanted to be,” Sandlin said. “But I was thinking to myself, ‘Gosh this is a lot easier to run whenever you’re in shape rather than when you’re out of shape like I am now.’ I feel after college I just had a little bit of a down period there but I feel myself getting back into training and racing so we’ll see and we’ll see what next year holds too.”

Sandlin broke from the front at the start and ran with a pack of high schoolers until pulling away about 2 miles into the 6.2 mile run. He then never felt threatened until the final stretch run when the youngsters started making their kick on the long uphill run to the finish in Fourth Street.

“There was a few high school kids. There was one of them and he probably hung with me for like 2 or 2 1/2 miles,” Sandlin said. “After that I was kind of by myself up until this last straightaway and then they came up behind me and they were really pushing hard and I was just out for a run and not paying a whole lot of attention so they started moving on me late. I had to really finish hard to get in.”

Sandlin said being pushed at the end by a group of younger runners is exactly what a high school coach wants to see. Although a little longer than a high school cross country race, the Courier 10K and cross country have a lot in common and both are good training grounds for the other.

“This is a strength race and cross country are strength races too … there’s definitely a correlation between the two,” he said.

Sandlin’s cross country protégé at Switzerland County, Leah Anders, was the defending female winner going into Saturday. However, her bid for back-to-back wins fell short when 48-year-old Cindy Harris of Indianapolis outpaced all women in 41:39 for 16th overall.

The win was the first in the Courier 10K for Harris after years of participation in the event. She said after seeing somewhat slower times posted by women last year she marked this year’s race as her shot to finally run for a win.

“It was a goal this year because I saw that the time last year wasn’t quite as good,” Harris said. “I mean it was something that I was capable of and in some years past I wasn’t even capable of it.”

Harris spends the bulk of her time training and racing in stair climbs, an event that most recently included an event at altitude in Mexico and would have seen her visit China last week in that race had not been canceled.

“I keep doing the same things. I do a lot of stair climbing races so I’ve got a lot of strength for the 10K and I’ve been doing Mexico at high altitude with stair climbers,” she said.

After training and racing at altitude, the hills of Madison came a lot easier even in the hot and humid conditions on Saturday.

“It was a lot of fun. I love going down that hill. Just about when you get tired after four miles you get a little break going down the hill,” Harris said. “Overall I felt really good. There have been years when it’s been a lot hotter. This didn’t feel too bad compared to some of the years I’ve run. I’m really happy. I’ve never won before.”

Anders, now 16, ended up finishing second to Harris and noted she was impressed by the 48-year-old’s win.

“I’m happy with it,” Anders said of her second place. “I’m not really training right now so I’m happy with my time.”

“She’s a little stud,” Sandlin said of his star runner. “Her training is at a different level than it was in years past even. She’s someone who really enjoys running and that I try to guide along the way … cross country this fall is going to be a good time for her.”

The one thing that took the sting out of Sandlin’s third place in 2016 was the fact that his high school runner was the top overall female. That same scenario played out in reverse on Saturday.

“I told him I won it last year so now you’ve got to go win it this year,” Anders said of her coach. “I’m really happy for him.”

The rest of the top five overall included Dolton Craig, 17, Dupont, third. 34:32; Parker Jones, 28, Sharpsville, fourth, 36:31; and Alexander Hendrix, 16, Paris Crossing, fifth, 37:05.

Complete results are available on our website at www.madisoncourier.com and photos and results will be published in Thursday’s edition.