One of the most exhausting, incredible, painful, exciting, adrenaline-filled events that I have been a part of. Chattajack 31 is a race that will make you feel so many emotions and make you feel like you can do anything!
It takes place in the beautiful Tennessee River starting at Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga, Tenn. While paddling 31 miles, you get to look at sights like this:
This was the 5th year of Chattajack madness, however, it was my first year. That’s why I’ve been pretty quiet in the blogosphere. I haven’t been racing, just training for this massive race since I signed up back in May.
Training consisted of many paddles ranging from 2-4 hours long. Living in Florida does not make training easy, the heat, humidity, wind, chop, etc. It was tough to go for so long. And this would take place usually after work or during my lunch break. I did not know what to expect at the race. My longest training paddle was 18.5 miles and I had to stop several times.
But the time finally came! October 22! I had to opportunity to stay in a house with many of the racers and hear their stories about previous years. Paddleboarders are definitely some of the coolest and most inspiring people I know.
The morning of the race was in the 40’s and WINDYYY!! And when I say windy, I mean windy. For about half the race, we experienced a headwind of about 20-30 mph. At some times, we’d be traveling at about 2 mph.
Me by the miles:
- Miles 1-6: I paddled with the lead girls in a draft train, starting out very fast. Some miles in the 9 minute range. But I didn’t like this, I was starring at the tail of someone’s board and not enjoying myself so I backed off to go on alone.
- Miles 6-24: I did alone but not completely, I was near a pair of paddlers from Florida that I knew and many other paddlers. It was calming to not have pressure to keep up with the ladies in front that I actually started passing. I did stop at mile 16 to get water from an aid boat. I ate half a Larabar at miles 15 and 21. I felt great paddling and was so excited to see the time flying, even in the wind.
- Miles 24-28: I drafted with another paddler who came out of nowhere, she was so fast! We worked together to get through some of the toughest and windiest parts of the course. I had to back off because I needed some food! So another half of a bar at mile 28.
- Miles 28-31: So much wind and miles were taking about 16 minutes. My hat kept blowing off and I started to get tired. Where is the finish!
- Miles 31-32: Yes 32! The race was actually 32 miles but what’s another one. The wind was at our backs, which made the finish so much better and a sprint at the end with everyone cheering was absolutely the best feeling I’ve ever had!
I even got a champagne shower at the end of the race from my awesome house crew!
So after 6 hours and 33 minutes, my first Chattajack was completed! I ended up getting 4th place overall for Women’s SUP! Full race results are here: RESULTS
It’s pretty cool to watch people finish… the race isn’t easy and you can see feelings through racers expressions. No matter what place you get or your time, the atmosphere at the finish is contagious with everyone’s shared accomplishment, CHATTAJACK 31! Then before you know it, it’s time to head back to the after party! Everything about this event beat my expectations. I cannot wait to be back next year!
For more on the race:
Contact me if you have any questions about the race or how I prepared! Happy Paddling!