Strawberry Shortcut back for 30th year
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Step back in time for just a bit. The year is 1978 and “around 150 folks,” according to then race director Clem Kopf, are waiting at the starting line to take part in the inaugural Strawberry Shortcut 10K run. The race starts and finishes near Glenwood High School and Dr. Don Stewart is ready to fire his shotgun blast into the air and send the eager participants off from their marks.Bill Aragon of Grand Junction crosses the finish line ahead of the field and is the race’s first-ever champion.Now fast-forward to 1990.The Shortcut features a 5K run to go along with the traditional 10K, and race director Marilee Rippy welcomes a record 1,500 registrants to the starting line. This year’s race not only sets a participant record, but the race T-shirt designed by Brett Morrison wins Runners World Magazine’s race T-shirt of the year.We’re now up to the present and Jim Yellico, who oversees the race operations, is encouraging not only the dedicated fitness enthusiasts to participate, but also those who may be new to the sport and especially families.”We would like to see as many families as possible,” Yellico said. “Runners are going to show up because runners run. Families should do it just to be together.”The 30th running of the Strawberry Shortcut 5K and 10K will take place this coming Sunday morning. The 10K gun goes off at 7 a.m. with the 5K following at 8:15 a.m. There is also a 1-mile family fun run which starts at 9:15 a.m.The 5K and 10K will both start at Centennial Park at Ninth Street and Grand Avenue, while the Fun Run will kick off under the Seventh Street Bridge.The cost to run in the 5K or 10K is $20, the fee to run both is $25, and the Fun Run costs $18. Proceeds from the race will benefit Special Olympics Colorado.Of all the day’s events, it’s the Fun Run, were Special Olympics runners compete in, which gives Yellico the most enjoyment.”When I see the Special Olympians cross the finish line, that’s my favorite part of the race,” Yellico said. “They have so much excitement and they feel just as good as the top-flight runners when they’re done.”As is the case with any race its size, the Strawberry Shortcut draws runners of all ability levels from all walks of life. There is also no shortage of past race stories and memorable personal moments from those who have made the race a rite of summer.Darrell Stanley, who will be toeing the starting line for the 27th time at this year’s race, recalls a time in the late 1980s when runners on the old 10K course were met with an unexpected stop in the middle of the race.”A train was passing through town and blocked the way of runners for a couple of minutes,” said Stanley. “It was at the corner of Grand Avenue and 23rd Street. It’s something we look back on and laugh about.”There are also those like Glenwood’s Andrea Sprung, who view the Shortcut, along with September’s Tri-Glenwood and Thanksgiving’s Turkey Day 5K, as the must-do local races.”I like to do the local events,” said Sprung, who is a veteran of the Boston and Pike’s Peak marathons. “I started running my freshman year in high school at the urging of my mom. I did it also because I needed an extra P.E. credit. Now I love it.”Many view the race as a chance to get some exercise and also catch up with old acquaintances.”I get to see friends and visit with some people I haven’t seen in a while,” said Rick Chavez, who will run the 5K and then do the Fun Run with his son Josh.With Yellico hoping for upwards of 800 participants this year, it would be a great time to gather up the family, get some exercise, and get out to see some people you’ve lost track of.And who knows, you might even come to love the sport of running. Even if it’s not for a P.E. credit.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.