Chattajack has come and gone; this year was Matt's fourth consecutive time completing the 31+ mile paddle race. This year was a little different because he raced his OC1 (outrigger canoe) rather than a stand-up paddleboard. The new craft offered some new pros and some new challenges, too.
We spent all of last Thursday driving up to Chattanooga, Tennessee. One nice thing about this race is that it makes seeing Quack and Anne Marie a yearly tradition. This year we also got to meet Lucy:
|This is definitely the first and may be the only time I ever feature cat videos on my blog. Enjoy.|
|Matt (green jacket) learning from the best.|
|Checking in and putting the finishing touches on his OC1.|
|Paddling to the start line.|
|And they're off!|
Matt hadn't gotten to practice drafting other OC1s much because his local paddling friends don't have them, so I was pleased that he'd found a train and seemed to be doing well.
|He's the second in line.|
Basically, the Sherpa guide doesn't clarify that you need to drive toward the Raccoon Mountain boat ramp. If you go toward the tourist center or pump station, you end up UP the mountain and far from the river. With rain and fog added to the mix, I was pretty turned around and lost at this point. My GPS took me off the interstate an exit early, and when I fixed it and hopped back on, I'd already lost 10 minutes. Then I made two wrong turns on the mountain itself and got all the way to the "top" before realizing I needed to find the boat ramp.
|While I was panicking about missing him, Matt was chatting merrily with fellow paddlers on the course.|
I yelled, "GO MATT GO! I GOT LOST THREE TIMES BUT I FOUND YOU THIS YEAR!"
To which he shouted back, "WHERE'S YOUR CAR?!"
I guess he could easily spot my blue mini from the water at times, and that's how he knew I was successfully spectating if he couldn't hear me shout. At Raccoon Mountain, he just saw me running around like a crazed chicken. At least I made him laugh!
Sullivan's Landing, another boat ramp well across the gorge from where the paddlers pass, is the furthest viewing point I stopped at. Still, I was able to spot Matt without binoculars (I will try to get some next year I think!) and shout across to him. (He told me later he was able to hear me and see my car.)
|The "view" from Sullivan's Landing|
Over all, it was a good race and a good visit to Tennessee. Next year Matt will earn the much-coveted belt buckle given to racers who have completed five consecutive years of Chattajack. After that, he says he'll take a break from this monster challenge...but who knows...there's a 10-year belt buckle out there, too.