by Steve Dullack
Nine days until 300 paddlers descend on Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Chattajack 31 race: 31 miles of fun on the Tennessee River. 300 paddlers…31 miles…let that sink in for a minute.
That is almost twice as many as Molokai this year…almost twice as many as the Graveyard at the Carolina Cup this year.
34 US States represented and international paddlers from Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the US Virgin Islands. There are 93 entries in the Men’s 14 foot division and 48 entries in the Women’s 12’6”.
Most race directors would be elated to get 93 TOTAL entries for a race. There are 15 more divisions for other SUPs, kayaks, surfskis, OC-1, OC-2, and prone.
More than 50 members of the 100/100 Paddle Group are entered into these divisions.
Add to the fact that the Tennessee Gorge will be at peak fall foliage for the weekend of the race and you have the making of an epic and truly special event in our sport.
Preview of the Men’s 14 division
At the time of this article, 93 men are registered for this division. I can’t wrap my head around that. 93 entries in one division for a 31 mile race.
Not only are there 93 entries, it is a stacked field. 15 of the Top 20 from 2014 are coming back…7 of the Top 10 are back…all of the top 5 from last year.
There are easily 20 guys in this race that if any of them got on the podium I don’t think anyone would say “I never saw that coming.” Who are some of these paddlers? I am glad you asked.
- Larry Cain, 1st Place 2014 and current Course Record holder
- Mike Tevares, 2nd Place last year, two time winner, previous Course Record holder
- Zach Rousanville, 4th Place 2014
- Jeremy Whitted, Top 5 finish 2013, 2014
- Ed Naggier, 2nd Place 2013, Top 10 2014
- Greg Tysor, Top 10 2013, Top 20 2014
- Greg Lew, Top 10 2013
- Roddy Medders, two Top 20 Finishes
- Anthony Galang, Winner Men’s 12’6” 2014 (moving up to 14’ this year)
And then you have those racing their first Chattajack that have mad crazy street cred:
- Bart deZwart, 3 time winner of the SUP 11 Cities Tour, arguably the best distance paddler in our sport
- Corey Taylor, 1st Place SEA Paddle NYC 2015
- Ryan Oliver, 2nd Place Dean Randazzo Paddle for a Cure 2015
- Greg Errion, 3rd Place Dean Randazzo Paddle for a Cure 2015
In the words of my Aussie friends…This one is gonna be a cracker of a race.
The Mullet asked me what are some of the things I focus on in the days leading up to the race:
- Taper. The point of a taper is to allow your body and mind to rest so you are fresh. It should include shorter workouts of med-high intensity. I hate to taper. Ask my girlfriend. As my kids. Ask my dogs. I feel like I am going to lose my mind because my body is used to a lot of activity. I also know how important it is so I do it. It works for me.
- Wash my board with soapy water and dry it. Sounds simple but you may be surprised what you find when you do this. There may be a little crack or something that needs attention before race day. Plus your board will be happy.
- Review my race strategy/game plan. Have a plan for the race. Visualize everything going great. Visualize something going wrong (it will). Don’t freak out if you aren’t where you want to be at mile 3.
- Make a checklist for race morning.
- Trust my training. This is hard. As paddlers/athletes we rarely admit we are as ready as we want to be for a major event. But in my opinion we are usually more prepared then we think we are.
- Have fun. This event is so great for meeting up with old friends, making new friends, Chattanooga is a super rad town, and this is a premium event in our sport. It is the gathering of the tribes and I can’t wait!!