Forty miles a week, going on 60. A mid-17-minute 5K time. Consistently beating out older and stronger runners in statewide races. You could say Adam Sandidge isn’t the typical 16-year-old.
Heading into his junior year at LaRue County High School, Sandidge has been running since he came across the high school cross-country tryouts when he was in the fifth grade. By seventh grade, he had run his first 10-mile race.
“I just started to like it,” he said. “Running doesn’t take a lot of talent. I wasn’t very fast but I could keep going.”
Now, Sandidge is competing in the State Parks series of 5K races held throughout Kentucky. He finished second overall in the races at Taylorsville Lake State Park and at Barren River Lake State Park, while also winning his age group in each. The same runner – a college student from Indiana – beat Sandidge for first place in both races.
Speaking of college, Sandidge has already received recruiting interest from DePauw University and Kentucky University for his running ability. Although he has just passed the halfway point of his high school career, Sandidge knows that he would like to go to the University of Kentucky to run in college – cross-country preferably, although he also competes in track and field for LaRue County High School.
Sandidge runs the 1-mile, 2-mile, 800-meter, and the 4x800 meter events on the Hawks’ track team. However, he prefers long-distance running. In KHSAA cross-country, the course is a 5K, which is about 3.1 miles.
Even if Sandidge doesn’t end up running in college, it won’t be for lack of effort. He runs about 40 miles per week now, and is working himself up to running 60 a week. A little help from cross-country coach Jim B. Phelps has also assisted the runner along the way.
“This is his second year coaching cross-country,” Sandidge said. “I run with him as much as I can. He helps to train me, because not a lot of people in LaRue County can train me like he can.”
Training is something that Sandidge will certainly have to get used to. He has goals of running a half-marathon by the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013 – possibly one at Louisville’s Slugger Field in March. He also wants to win the state cross-country championship each of the next two seasons.
Last year, Sandidge placed 32nd overall (out of 249 runners) in the 2011 cross-country 2A State Championship meet with a time of 17:54.21.A time like that would average out to be less than a 6-minute mile, for three miles straight. Sandidge’s overall time made him about a minute and a half behind the winner, all while he was a sophomore in high school.
So what motivates this 16-year-old to run distances that many who are older, faster and stronger can’t run as well or as fast?
“It’s just the fact that if I stop running, my competitors are still going,” he said. “They’re getting better while I’m not, and that’s what keeps me going.”