Events | More than a Race: The Chattajack 31
Wed, 2017-11-01 09:30 | Anonymous
For the 6th year. The event has ran. People from across the globe head to the mountains of Tennessee. And to many it serves as an annual trip. A pilgrimage. To paddle the Tennessee River Gorge. For 31 miles.
There is something unique that makes this event what it is. Something that has the event sell out annually in a few short hours as the registration opens at the crack of midnight. Bringing many of the same faces back. Time and time again.
But what does it all mean? And why do people endure brutal conditions?
We’ve asked a few of our friends what Chattajack is to them.
Chattajack is simple. A challenging race put on by paddlers for paddlers and in the most beautiful river with more history than you can believe. Everybody who is there, is there to paddle with friends and test themselves. This is the future of paddling
Thanks Kimberly and Ben and all the crew who make this happen
Thanks —Joe Bark
“It has taken a few days for Chattajack to hit my body and mind. I knew I wasn't thinking quite clearly when driving and trying to figure out how to get home yesterday. The massage helped a lot. All things being the same, I will not enter a 7:25 minute paddle or anything for that matter, without training. Cindy and I figured we had about 100 miles of paddling in for all of 2017 in "preparation" for CJ. What we have realized after a few days is how unfair that was to our bodies to do that.......it will be the last time to enter the CJ without some serious miles. Rain, 50 degrees, water, wind gusting sometimes to 15mph, no miles training, none of those are really big in themselves until you put it all together....can't control any of that except the training...... What I have attached here is to me the heart and sole of CJ. Joe Bark at the finish line waiting to make sure that Cindy and I made it safely in. He directs me to the place to get out and is handing me his towel. He had waited more than an hour in very unpleasant conditions, in shorts......just to be sure we got in. He then takes my board out......Joe, one of the best people on the planet, world renown for making incredible boards......waiting for us..... This is it guys, what Chattajack is all about....not money, prizes, winning,....its finishing and doing it with the help of everyone, famous or not.” —Neil Newton of Paddle Up Nashville
"For me Chattajack is more than just a race. It's a family reunion, it's a chance to test myself, it's a celebration of the community. And frankly the Gorge is a special place - I have made huge life decisions out there - it's spiritual. Each year is different just like each year I go my life is in a different season. You cannot find the sense of community and camaraderie anywhere else. Everyone is there to support each other in the common goal of getting to the end. What Ben and Kim have created is so unique - a 600 person race that still feels like it's 50 of your best friends going for a long paddle" —Chris Aguilar
A very large group of waterman and water women invading the mountains of TN with all sorts of crafts to explore the beautiful TN River Gorge in true waterman fashion by paddling 32 miles in whatever conditions Mother Nature chooses to throw at us! —AJ Deflippis
Chattajack to me is full of many things you can’t control... the wind, rain, and cold. But it’s also full of many things you can control... belief, preparation, and strength. The challenges you face out there are different each year and how you react to them is something that only you can manage. Every year I learn so much about myself and for some time after the race, I feel unstoppable and capable of anything. —Katherine Pynne
“Chattajack is a very challenging but beautiful race amongst the fall colors and mountains of the Tennessee River Gorge. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment at the finish, and a feat to celebrate as a team with my paddle community from far and wide.” —Jessica Cichra
A true test of one’s love for paddling. After doing it 5 years in a row, I often ask myself why I do the race. I do the race because I can do it and it keeps me honest every year. —Ed Naggiar
Chattajack isn’t a race, it’s an experience. Ben & Kim have created an amazing community that is all inclusive- paddlers, Volunteers, spectators, sherpas. It’s stoke, it’s excitement, it’s drama free. Paddlers rush to each other’s aid and cheer each other on throughout the course. The conditions are miserable more times than not yet people set alarms to make registration almost 6 months before the event. Chattajack is the event people talk about from year to year; it’s a tradition for most now. That really says a lot about what Ben & Kim have built. —Heather Frogge
These quotes. Only a few days old. All have another common thread. Almost all of them. Attended because of one man. A guy who quietly does his thing. Gets people on the water. Builds communities. And lines up on the start line next everyone. Quick to share a smile, a hello and kind words. But when the race is over. He stands by and cheers everyone on. No matter what place they finish. He has instilled the basic fundamental of our sport. Because it is part of him. Selfless. Community driven. He is a vital cog to the success of our sport. In both stand up paddling and prone. And if it wasn’t for Joe Bark, I would have not attended this event.
As I spoke to Chris Aguilar today, he put it best. “You just can't say no to Joe because you don't want to be left out - there is always a good amount of fun involved in it all.”
And maybe that’s why everyone is already asking when 2018’s registration opens.