Beginning Racing: Your First Chattajack Race

Your First Chattajack Race

Guessing that a whole host of first-time Chattajack racers  are signed up for this year’s 32-mile sojourn down the Tennessee River Gorge in October. SUP paddling is booming because of the pandemic and the race was cancelled last year because of Covid. It will be even more exciting than ever when we all unite in Chattanooga!

So, here are some tips to keep in mind as you get ready.

  1. PREPARE!!! If you haven’t started training, do so NOW. Many folks make the mistake of starting way too late when it comes to building up the strength and endurance to complete the course and its required time cut-offs.
  2. Don’t Wing it. Get a plan and follow it. An interval/heart rate training plan is hands down the best way to make sure you are solid when it comes to walking down the ramp at  Ross Landing in Chattanooga and up the dock at Hales Bar at the finish.
  3. Don’t be tempted to log big mile training days. Too many paddlers obsess about being able to do the 32 miles (yes, it’s 32) especially close to race day. The end result: premature burn out., injuries and fatigue on race day. INTERVALS. Do your interval work and you will be better off.
  4. Get your nutrition sorted. Do not wait until a week or two to figure out what kind of hydration and food you are going to use on race day. Start experimenting with that now. Now is the time to try new brands of gel, liquid nutrition, protein solutions and energy snacks. Know what your body is going to tolerate and do best with.
  5. Get your gear sorted. Likewise, figure out exactly how you will carry all the water you will need, how you will deploy your gels, and the like. Practice and train with the kit you will use on race day so you know how it will feel and how it will work together. Nothing should be a surprise when the race starts.

Other things to consider

Sign Up a Sherpa

It is very helpful to have help – or a “sherpa” as we call them – to get you to the start line, make sure you have everything you need, and to be there at the finish line.

Your sherpa can:

  • Provide moral support
  • Help you load your gear post-race
  • Make sure you hydrate and eat at after the race
  • Serve an emergency function should you need help during the race
  • Drive you back home – you might be too tired and sore!

If you do not have family members who will be there for you, enlist someone now. Get that lined up so you won’t have to worry about it at the last minute.

Go Stoic

Do not start worrying about what the weather will be, how fast the current will flow on race day and how strong the wind will be. Chattajack is completely different from year to year. Be prepared for hot, temperate and/or cold, and wet weather. Assume a headwind and no current flow.

Focus on your training, because that is the only thing that is under your control!


If you need a training plan, check out what Paddle Monster offers. Need help with nutrition? Coach Victoria can help!

Check out the PaddleMonster archives for more Chattajack content.

And stay tuned for more Chatty-tips in the coming weeks!