HYPERLOCAL NEWS HUB BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS DEPARTMENT OF JOURNALISM
What It Takes, To Run The Race
Ashli Blow/MicroMemphis Reporter
All Photos taken by reporter
After 20 years of the Cooper-Young 4-miler up and running, The Cooper-Young Community Association and residents have setting up the race down to a science. What’s the main element? Teamwork.
In order to host this four-mile party, several components are placed and implemented to carry out a smooth operation. One of those being plans to block off neighborhood roads including a busy part of Cooper.
“We have 53 reserve officers that stand at the blocked off roads monitoring traffic and runners,” said Barbara Davis, Memphis Police Manager, who has been working safety at the Cooper-Young race for the past 15 years.
Davis said that community has always been cooperative with blocking off important roads in the neighborhood. Usually road barriers go up starting around 5:30 and gradually are taken down as the race progresses. All roads are clear and open again around 9:30.
Memphis Runners Track Club is the group responsible for putting out orange cones to outline the course for the runners.
This year Start 2 Finish Event Management was over chip timing and a big part of the race post party held in the Bluff City parking lot. Set up for the race began at 9 am, including factors on the course and the start/finish line.
Start 2 Finish employee, Daniel Shafford, helped work the registration that began handing out goody bags to runners last Tuesday. Friday a few hours before the race he said over 2000 runners were already registered and they expected more to register for the event before the start.
Kristan Huntley, director of Cooper-Young Community Association, said that the race would not be possible without volunteers.
Volunteer duties stretch from working at the registration table to handing out cups of water to the runners during the race.
"The volunteers are a huge help," Huntley said. " On Monday night a bunch of us got together to stuff hundreds of goody bags. It's a community effort"
She said that everyone that participates in the Light The Way Party-where community neighbors stand outside their homes and cheer on the runners or spectating the race - pitches in to clean up and set up.
"I use to work the water table outside my house on Nelson," Huntley said. "When all the runners were finished and we would pick up cups off the ground, neighbors would help. Even if they were just on their porch watching the race and drinking a beer, they would walk down and help us out."
Richard Coletta was the founder of the race 20 years ago. He said that the race started to create funds in the community. As it lost money the first couple of years, it now generates a solid revenue for Cooper-Young.
Coletta, CYCA President in 1991, mapped out the course himself and made it a four miler to make it more unique than the other races.
After the second year, Coletta and the board decided to create the Light the Way party to get the community more involved with race. Ever since then it has been a success.
"We were one of the first(in the nation) to have an evening race like this," Coletta said.
By the time that event wrapped up there were over 30 sponsors and 100 plus volunteers.
Huntley said that most of the clean up was done by a hired team that performs street clean ups. Volunteers and Start 2 Finish management broke down tables and stages and other projects in the Bluff City parking lot after the post-race party.
Registration tables and goody bag hand out began last Tuesday, three days before the day of the race. This picture was taken at the Cordova location Thursday, in front of Ameriprise, where Volunteers stuff bags and hand them out to runners .
Daniel Shafford, Start 2 Finish employee, has all the registrant's information in these bins to easily find their race bib.
First time volunteer, Libby Flynt, helps hand out t-shirts Friday in the Bluff City parking lot. Flynt was also a runner in the race.
Sarah Frierson was a second year volunteer at the registration booth. The 4-miler gave out the red CY Race T-shirts to runners who registered before the day of the race. General white Cooper-Young Festival shirts were given out once red shirts were gone.
Although there seemed to be an endless amount of goody bags a t-shirts, many participants in the race did not receive one due to a limited supply. Director of CYCA, Kristan Huntley, said that most runners-especially those that lived in Cooper-Young- weren't bothered by not getting a bag and were just excited about running the race.
The red boxes on the map of the four mile course indicates where roads had to be blocked off during the race.
Community members were asked to avoid parking on the street if possible to allow more room for runners during the race.
Start 2 Finish Management uses an Innovative Timing System, to keep track of runners time. Every runner gets an individual chip that is located on the back of the runner's bib. As soon as a runner crosses under the system and past the starting line the their individual time is tracked.
The Innovative Timing System is placed on the north side of the Cooper-Young Trestle. Cooper was shut down around 5:30 pm to set up the device on the road.
Cooper-Young residents, Keith and Karen Eyer, has their home the course and set up tiki-torches in their front yard to "Light the Way." In addition, they planned to string lights across the street to brighten up the path even more. They stood and cheered on the runners with their friends during the race.