CY gears up for the 20th Festival Friday 4 Miler

By Toby Sells

Start at East Parkway and run east on Summer Avenue. Pass the funky car lots, Tops Bar-B-Q, the thrift stores, TJ Maxx, Kroger, Central BBQ, and stop just past Ike’s. Knock out the turns and this run is the same distance as the Cooper-Young Festival Friday 4 Miler.
Runners from all over the Memphis area have sprinted, strode, sweat, and kicked through that distance in Cooper-Young every year since 1992, when George H. W. Bush was President and Aladdin topped Hollywood. In those 20 years, the 4 Miler has become a major fundraiser for the Cooper-Young Community Association and a premiere event on the Memphis running scene.

Brent Manley called the Festival Friday 4 Miler one of the top races on the Memphis Runners Track Club (MRTC) calendar for a couple of reasons. “It’s a departure from the usual 5K, with a scenic course through a historic neighborhood,” said Manley, editor of MRTC’s newsletter, The Roadrunner. “Even better, it’s part of a big outdoor party that runners’ families can enjoy when the racing is done.”

This year the post-race party will have music by the Memphis Snake Doctors, food from Camy’s Pizza and Easy Way, and beer from Coors Lite. Lots of races have parties, but what the Festival Friday 4 Miler has that most races don’t is Cooper-Young residents, according to Star Ritchey, owner of Star Runners, a Cooper-Young-based running program. “People come out of their houses and support the runners. When you pass Celtic Crossing, Young Avenue Deli and Cafe Ole, people on their patios scream and cheer,” said Ritchey. “That’s super-motivating, especially for a beginning runner.”

About three miles into the Festival Friday 4 Miler route, lives one of the many Cooper-Young neighbors that embody Ritchey’s sentiment. Wayne Young and Salli Scott Young keep it pretty simple at their Neighbors Light the Way party on Nelson with food, friends, drinks, music, and cheering on runners. But they’d never miss the 4 Miler because for them it’s like Christmas. “It’s one time when all of our friends come together for a great event,” Wayne said.

“Everybody loves the Festival, and it’s a good way to get our friends to come to CY for a visit. It’s just a great time.”
For runners, the event will have bib-tag timing (so, no chips to cut off at the finish line) and a long-sleeve, Dri-Balance running shirt with a new, classic logo.

Registration for the Festival Friday 4 Miler is now open and can be accessed online at The entry fee is $25 (with a $2.50 registration fee). Early packet pickup will be available on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before the race. Times and locations will be available online soon. You can also register on the day of the race (September 16) at Bluff City Sports at 769 Cooper beginning at 10am. Day-of registration is $30.

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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