Countdown to the Chattajack 31!
Some people – the ones who don’t paddle – call this time of year Pumpkin Spice Season.
Those of us who do paddle know differently.
Hop on just about any of the Facebook groups dedicated to participating in the Chattajack 31 race through the Tennessee River Gorge right about now and you’re almost sure to find questions about how much push the current will generate, what to do about nutrition, what to do about heeding the call of nature, the 10-mile cutoff at Suck Creek and the like. We are a month away from one of the most amazing, challenging and dare I say it, mystical races in our sport.
It is officially Chatta-Time.
Last year, we published a series of articles dealing with just about everything you need to know for CJ — from how to gear up, an anti-freak out list, how to take care of business, and an excellent course preview from Chatta-Local Dottie Hodges.
There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. And honestly, nothing could top Dottie’s primer on how to take “bio-breaks” on the board. So why even try? So, if you are new to this party and you are fretting, just hit those links.
If you’re not, and still you fret, take solace in knowing you have experience. That experience will help you through.
Here are just a few things worth reminding y’all about…
The Cliff Notes Don’ts
- Don’t worry about that dang current and how much push you might get. Ain’t nobody but the Tennessee Valley Authority got control over that. Assume no current.
- Prepare for all manner of weather. It could be warm. It could be foggy. It could rain. It could be windy as heck. Or all of the above, changing every hour.
- Don’t decide to try new bars or gels on race day. Just don’t.
- And for the love of all things good and holy, DO NOT GO INTO THE WEEDS.
And the Do’s:
- Soak it all in. CJ is an amazing experience like no other race. Enjoy every minute.
- Take enough water.
- Protect your hands with paddle wax or gloves or something.
- Trust your training.
This year’s Chattajack, like all the ones before it, will be different for me. And if you’re a returning vet, probably for you, too. But one thing will remain the same: the people. From the pros who come to this race and share their insights and their struggles right along side the Jane’s and Joe’s, to the friends you will reunite with, to the new, life long ones you will make, and to the dedication of race organizers Ben and Kim Friberg — the Chatta-folks are what make this event so great. So special. And it’s why so many of us keep coming back year after year.
Well, that and the chocolate milk at the end.
See you in the Gorge!!