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Chattajack Interview & Tips With Steve Dullack

What food items did you carry during your Chattajack race? How much of it did you eat? When did you eat it during the course?

I don’t like to eat solid food while I am racing, I have tried and it just doesn’t work for me. I use 100% liquid nutrition. I get my calories from CarboPro which is tasteless when dissolved in water and I get my electrolytes from Metasalt tablets (also by CarboPro). I have all of my nutritional requirements for a 5 hour race calculated. I make it into 100oz solution in a Camelbak and consume 5 oz every 15 minutes. CarboPro was big for me, I was able to hit the gas at mile 25 and I have never been able to do that in an ultra-distance race before.

Did you stop at any of the aide stations? Water? Snacks? KFC CHICKEN!?

I carried everything on me so I did not have to stop. Not a huge fan of KFC…but if there was a Starbucks station I probably would have just ended my race right there and called it a raging success.

Were you in any draft packs during the event?

I didn’t have a great start so I was on my own for about the first 8 miles and had to play leapfrog to get up near the leaders. I eventually caught up to Pat Brommel and we worked together for a little while, then I got up to Zach Rounsanville and we worked together briefly as well. Somewhere around mile 15 I caught up to Jeremy Whitted. Jeremy and I have raced together many times and worked together in the past at the Carolina Cup. He is a beast and we had a great 2 man draft going for about 10 miles switching every 5 minutes. I got close to Mike Tevares at the end, but couldn’t reel him in, he was paddling really well.

Did you wear a heartrate monitor? If so did you maintain ahr similar to what you expected during the race?

I train pretty religiously with a HRM but I never race with one. Too much information during a race is bad for me. I just want to know how fast I am going so I can find the fast water, how far I have gone so I know when I can stop, and the time so I know when to drink.

What was your strategy for training for the 2014 Chattajack? Anything you plan to do different for Chattajack 2015?

For 2014, I did a lot of 10 mile paddles and worked my way up to a few 20 milers. I don’t know if training to a distance further then 20 miles is beneficial. After about 4 hours of a race my body is pretty shot and whatever race is left is more mental than physical.

For 2015 I have been working with Mick DeBetta of Paddle Power Training. He had me doing a ton of interval work early this year and recently I moved into a phase that is 60/40 interval work and distance work. I still think that putting in a lot of distance miles is crucial- as much for the mental toughness needed to race 5 hours as well as the physical conditioning.

Was your training for Chattajack significantly different than your approach for Carolina Cup?

Absolutely. I love both races for different reasons and the prep is different as well.

Carolina Cup is true test of the best all-around paddler. I am very confident in my flat-water abilities so for The Cup I practice a lot of beach starts, ocean paddling and surfing my race board. Mentally The Cup is a little easier because you can break the race up into segments (1st ocean, 1st inlet, flat-water to the Blockade Runner, flatwater to the 2nd inlet, 2nd inlet, 2nd ocean).

I love Chattajack because it is a true flat-water ultra-distance race, and there are not many of those. Conditions are important, but race conditions don’t play as much a factor in who finishes where like it can in Carolina or BoP. It is a harder race mentally then Carolina and you have to train your mental side for 5 hours of hammering, racing, drafting, passing, being passed, feeling great, feeling like crap, wondering where the hell that dam everyone talks about is…and for physically paddling 5 hours as well.

Any tips you would offer to someone hoping to podium in men’s 14’?

Eat donuts…now…lots of them.

Just kidding. I think the most important thing is to have a game plan. It is a long race. Don’t freak out if you aren’t where you think you should be at mile 3 or mile 5. Train your ass off. Don’t miss a workout. Eat clean.

What are a couple of most memorable moments from Chattajack 2014?

I don’t know where to begin. Blueberry pancakes at Aretha Frankensteins. The cook-out at Dottie’s house. Meeting Melia and thinking she should be on a megaphone at every race anywhere. Getting in a short paddle on Thursday with Mikey T, Jeremy and Justin. Pre race dinner with Pat Brommel, Troy, and the Hobo Squad. Check in. Getting in line at the race launch and there is Joe Bark in line ahead of me and Larry Cain behind me. Standing on a podium with Larry Cain and Mike Tevares, 2 great friends and two of the best guys in our sport. So many great people and great friends. Chattajack is like the gathering of the tribes.

What were your board specs for 2014? What board, model, length, width, weight?

I paddle for King’s Paddle Sports. I had a custom 14’x24” flatwater raceboard. It was 17lbs out of the box, probably 19 with deckpad and fin. It is the fastest thing I have ever paddled. Period. Nothing comes close.

Will you try a different board for 2015?

Not a chance.

Did you switch up your paddle for Chattajack or use pretty much the same thing you use for other SUP races?

I use the HippoStick PRO with the 8.0 inch blade. It is about 90 square inches. It is the only paddle I race with. I love it.

Did you ever hit a wall? Mile?

I never hit a wall but at mile 29 I was ready to be done. That stupid dam moves, I swear it does.

Which way did you go around Williams Island?

The same way the guys in front of me did. I honestly don’t remember.

During headwinds did you hug the shore to avoid the chop or move out into the chop to take advantage of current?

I am pretty sure I stayed with the currents. I don’t remember being very close to shore at any time.

Any words of wisdom to Chattajack first timers?

Take a look around while you are racing, the scenery is stunning in the gorge.

Train hard, but don’t overdo it. It is a long race and there will be ups and downs. Focus on your pre-race and in-race nutrition. Don’t do ANYTHING new on race day, stick to what got you there.

Make new friends, see old friends, get to Chattanooga a couple days early if you can, talk to people you don’t know, ask questions, smile, have fun, eat something that is bad for you after the race, learn…you are doing something very few paddlers get to do, enjoy every minute of it.

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