Strawberry Shortcut: Volunteer help comes in the nick of time

Jon Mitchell
Mike Kishimoto has been a mainstay in the Glenwood Springs running community over the past two decades. The assistant track and field coach at Glenwood Springs High School was not only instrumental in helping change the Strawberry Shortcut's race course, but also helped bring chip timing to the event.
Jon Mitchell / Post Independent |


When: Sunday morning. The 10K begins at 7 a.m. and the 5K begins at 8:15 a.m.

Where: Start line is near the corner of 9th and Main Streets next to Centennial Park. The finish line will be near the corner of 9th Street and Colorado Avenue.

Cost: $35 for either the 10K or 5K, or $45 for both races. A $25 fee applies for the 1-mile fun run.

Benefits: Race proceeds benefit Special Olympics Colorado.

Other incentives: The Bank of Colorado is awarding a pair of $100 bank accounts to the fastest youth runners who participate in the race.

Course change: The race course for the 10K has changed slightly at the request of the Glenwood Springs Police Department. Now, the race has a turnaround spot which is about one-eighth of a mile short of the Cardiff Bridge in South Glenwood Springs.

Where to sign up: Sayre Park in Glenwood Springs at their Strawberry Days booth. Registration can also be done online at

Information: Race director Kevin White, 970-366-9875.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Kevin White couldn’t even begin to express how he felt about what Mike Kishimoto has meant to the Strawberry Shortcut.

“Mike has done such a great job with traditional timing and timing in general over the years that, well, this race wouldn’t have continued to exist without him,” said White, who is in his seventh year as race director of the annual 10K and 5K races in Glenwood Springs. “The contributions that he’s made have been absolutely phenomenal.”

Kishimoto, who has been a stable figure in running circles around the area in several ways, is in his 12th year serving as a race volunteer. During that time, he has not only helped change the race course from its previous route along Midland Avenue, but he played an instrumental role in helping the race make the conversion to chip timing from the traditional hand-timing system that had been used for decades prior to last year.

Kishimoto isn’t about to pat himself on the back for what he’s done, but he’ll come away with something when he’s done helping out.

“The reason is because when you walk away, you tell yourself that you gave something to your community. It’s not for recognition or acknowledgment.”Mike KishimotoStrawberry shortcut volunteer

“Whether it’s the Strawberry Shortcut or the Mother’s Day Mile … it’s a great feeling at the end of the day,” Kishimoto said. “The reason is because when you walk away, you tell yourself that you gave something to your community. It’s not for recognition or acknowledgment. It’s just because you know that you helped some people out with some expertise you have that not a lot of people do.”

He’s has definitely used his expertise in track and field throughout the years. Kishimoto has been the president of the Springers (high school and junior high) Track Club and one of its board members for the past 22 years, and he’ll step down from those duties at the end of the summer. He’s also helped time for the annual Mother’s Day Mile in Glenwood for the past 15 years, and he’s slated to help out with the second-annual Wiley Coyote 5K when it takes place in August in West Glenwood.

He’s coached many high school state champions in the 300 hurdles, including his daughter, Jennifer, who won the Class 4A 300-meter hurdles state championship in 1999.

But the biggest contribution he’s made to the local running community — specifically to the Shortcut — has been to its timing system.

Kishimoto, who initially helped time for the Mother’s Day Mile when it first started, was asked by former Shortcut race director Jim Yellico if he could help time for his race. He obliged, using the same hand-timing system he uses for the mile race for the Shortcut.

However, the imperfect hand timing system showed its imperfections three years ago.

Each runner wears a tag or a number, and timers keep track of each runner as they cross the finish line and line up the finishers in order. That year, however, some of the finishers were placed upside down and backward, meaning most of the final times were incorrect while leaving some of the runners fuming.

“If everything goes right [in hand timing], it’s great,” Kishimoto said. “But it never does.”

After that, Kishimoto helped the Shortcut get on board with chip timing, bringing the Shortcut up to speed with some of Colorado’s more elite running events. With it, each runner has a chip they carry with them, and the runners’ times start when they cross the starting line and finish when they crossed the finish line. It definitely gives the benefit of the doubt to runners in the back of the pack at the start, while clocks using the hand timing system would begin 30 seconds before they even reached the start line.

“This has helped bring this event to what Kevin and Joy (Kevin’s wife) want it to be again, which is back to being a statewide event,” Kishimoto said.

Kevin White also said Kishimoto was one of close to 10 people who helped map out the 10K and 5K courses as they moved from Midland Avenue onto its current path using the Rio Grande Bike Path along the banks of the Roaring Fork River. Through his full-time job as a government surveyor, he had access to GPS programs that were used to help make the course’s distance as accurate as possible.

And Kishimoto’s contributions have only helped the race, now celebrating its 38th year, continue to grow.

We have about 25 to 30 volunteers every year, and about 10 to 12 who come back all the time,” White said. “Mike has been the keystone for all of that and a rock for this race.”

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