If this is your inaugural Chattajack race and possibly your first time to paddle the Tennessee River Gorge here are a couple things that will hopefully make race weekend go smoothly for you!
STORAGE - Dropping off your board/boat at basecamp storage is a great idea and encouraged. Saturday morning will be crowded near basecamp and getting your vehicle close to basecamp for board/kayak drop will not be easy possibly resulting in a tiresome carry.
RACE MAP (What are they & Why) – At pre-race check-in you’ll receive your bib, t-shirts, etc but also a laminated race map. The majority of Chattajack racers tend to tape this to their board/kayak in plain sight while they’re paddling. The map shows the layout of the land/course; the curves in the river, the shape of the mountains, the location of aid stations and a couple mile marker indications. It is definitely not a substitute for your GPS but it will help you recognize bends in the gorge that lie ahead.
THINGS TO REMEMBER CARD – At the end of the pre-race check-in line you’ll receive a card titled “Things to Remember”. This card will have 10 bullet points. The purpose of the card is to serve as peace of mind during all the madness (gear, times, logistics, details, etc.) Have the bases covered on these 10 things listed then set your mind on autopilot and focus on what you need to do to get in your race zone happy place.
SHUTTLE - Saturday (Race Day) Morning – If you’re parking at Hale’s Bar and using the bus shuttles back give yourself plenty of time. Leave Chattanooga early. The drive is pretty long and you’ll have to find a place to park once arriving.
CELL PHONE – If you think you run the risk of missing a cut-off (Mile 10 or 23) or not completing the course you may want to carry your cell phone with you in a waterproof case so you can:
1. call a friend/family member to come pick you up
2. (very important) Call the number on the Things To Remember Card to tell the race officials you are leaving the course. If you don't we will send the Coast Guard looking for you. *Please make sure you notify the race if you leave the course.*
WEEDS – Shortly after you pass the 3rd and final aid station at mile 27 the course starts a long bend to the left. During this turn there are always lots of weeds on the left bank forcing paddlers to make a wider turn. This can be mentally challenging if there’s wind during this section. Just keep digging though, you’ll get through it. If it’s your first time doing Chattajack know that this section will challenge you. You’ll probably be tired and hangry upon arriving to it and it’s sort of an added insult to injury. Paddlers have been known to mention the 2 word phrase “Never Again” during this stretch, but the memory soon fades haha!
HALES BAR FINISH LINE SPRINT – When you get to the finish line you’ll be going along a long dock with tons of people cheering you own saying “Go Hard”, “Sprint It Out”, bunch of stuff like that. This is the finish line sprint. Your timing chip triggers a split approx. 300 yards before the official finish line. If you have gas in the tank still sprint it out and finish strong!
TIME ZONES - All times having anything to do with Chattajack are EST (Eastern Standard Time zone). The finish line is technically in Central Time but all times on race literature, www.chattajack.com, Chattajack’s social media, etc are strictly in Eastern Standard Time.