Just in case you’re wondering why this race is hosted in late October here are some reasons why. The Tennessee River Gorge is a natural sanctuary protected through the hard work and efforts of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust. Paddling through the gorge amongst the tall canyon walls makes you feel small and insignificant amongst nature’s splendor. During the winter months the trees are all dormant except the few evergreens. During the spring the hardwood trees all surge to life making the gorge vivid green! It’s a great time to experience the gorge but the trade off are the violent spring storms that rip across the Tennessee valley. Sheer winds, hail, and tornadoes can also be elements of these storm systems. The last thing we want is anyone traveling from far locations to get here and not get the chance to run the Chattajack gauntlet. Summer is a nice season to experience the gorge but a little on the hot side for a 31-mile “race”.
When fall arrives the gorge transforms yet again to it’s proudest moment of the year! We’ve all seen the picture perfect images of the Appalachian Mountains bursting with color. On behalf of chlorophyll (green) loss the leaves colors become almost florescent thanks to things like anthocyanin (pink & purple), carotenoid (yellow & orange), and tannin (brown and yellow). It’s like ROYGBIV all over the place in there! The timing of the peak fall colors changes a little year to year. The National Park Service estimates the peak typically occurs between mid October and mid November. Chattajack falls right smack dab in the middle of this window!
The California Battle of the Paddle has historically taken place during the last weekend of September. Because of the uniqueness of the Chattajack race course we want to give our West coast friends plenty of time to unwind from the BOP. 4 weeks seems sufficient to re-gear and make way to the gorge.
Quite a few events take place in the gorge and river during this time of year taking advantage of the scenery, river and natural resources. The city provides some assistance to Chattajack with use of the parks, transportation, and buildings. In order to secure these resources we need to nestle amongst the other races.
Historic air temperature averages for Tennessee in late October are right at 70 degrees with water temps in the low to mid 70’s. These temps are perfect for endurance athletes ready to go hard in a distance race! It’s probably safe to say that anyone who has put in the training for a 30-mile paddle race has put in a few days of training in colder temperatures. Knowing your preference for cold weather gear is a plus in case we get a curveball from Mother Nature like we did in 2013 with the cold air temps and fog.
Happy training friends and water family and we hope to see you in the gorge when the colors begin to change. Until then happy trails and safe journeys.