Even if it doesn't feel like it, spring, and its long list of exciting race events, are just around the corner. Starting now until early May, the Chattanooga area will be serving up some very exciting race options for a variety of athletes. By no means an exhaustive list, here are 9 Scenic City events that will get your blood pumping during the transition from winter to spring. You can stick with your sport of choice or use an event as a cross training opportunity. Whatever you decide, put a few of these distinct local races on your calendar, and you won't regret it.
Trail Running Options:
1. Savage Gulf Marathon
This tough trail marathon, happening on March 21st, showcases 26.2 of the 55 total miles within the Savage Gulf State Natural Area—one of Tennessee's most spectacular Natural Areas. The race begins and ends at the Stone Door Ranger Station. The course is challenging with great stretches of rocks, as well as runnable bluff portions. Enjoy waterfalls, rivers, and interesting geological formations and features as you make your way into the gulf and back out.
2. Rock/Creek River Gorge Trail Race
The River Gorge Trail Race, happening this year on March 28th, could be considered the Goldilocks option of Chattanooga trail racing—it's not too long and it's not too short. It's just right! Following the singletrack trail on Prentice Cooper's gorgeous Mullens Cove Loop, the course packs a whole lot of landscape and terrain in its relatively moderate 10.2 mile distance. We're talking unforgettable canyon views, dense forests, rock gardens, multiple stream crossings, fast roller-coaster downhills, and extended, lung-busting uphills. This race is a great opportunity for seasoned runners to push themselves for a fast time or for newbies just getting into the trail racing community.
3. Scenic City Trail Marathon and Half
The Scenic City Trail Marathon is one of the largest trail marathons in the Southeast, held on April 24th on the fast, hard-packed dirt mountain bike trails of TVA's Raccoon Mountain. A short road section at the start of both races helps thin out the pack of 500+ runners. Almost completely singletrack, with rolling hills, many twists and turns, these races are the perfect introduction to trail racing or a great race opportunity for the more experienced. The course offers excellent views of the Tennessee River, and it is flatter and smoother than many of the rugged local trails.
Crossover Option—Road or Trail Running:
4. Chickamauga Chase
Join the forty-seventh running of The Chickamauga Chase on Saturday, April 18th in the historic and beautiful Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. The Chickamauga Chase is Chattanooga's oldest continuously run road race, and the signature event 15K is one of America's oldest races at this distance.
The Chattanooga Track Club and Wild Trails join forces to put on events your family and friends can enjoy. Choose from 15K and 5K road races, a 6.5 mile trail race, a kiddie k, and a 2.4 mile scenic walk. The races are held on different courses so you can choose your distance and difficulty. The 5K is a very popular, fast, and mostly flat course. The race has a simultaneous start with the 15K, both races staying together for approximately 1.5 miles before the 5K turns off to the right and then doubles back on about a mile of the first part of the course. The 6.5 mile trail race is a moderately challenging off road course with some small hills.
Road Running Option:
5. Scenic City Half Marathon and 5k
On February 28th, the Scenic City half marathon course will run through the UTC campus, the business district, alongside the scenic Tennessee Riverwalk, passing marshes, wildlife sanctuaries, the historic Bluff Art District and Hunter Museum, as well as a portion of the North Shore district before returning to UTC via Veterans Bridge. This mid-winter race is a great opportunity to check in with your fitness and see what you need to do to peak for your spring race.
Mountain Biking Options:
6. Snake Creek Gap Series
The Snake Creek Gap parts 2 and 3 are on February 7th and March 7th (both are Saturdays). If you missed the first event of the series on January 3rd, it isn't too late to enjoy the next one or two. You can choose from the 17 or 31 mile options and enjoy some challenging and beautiful riding on the Pinhoti Trail in North Georgia. Sign up and get your bike ready.
7. Pick Your Poison XC Mountain Bike Race
The Pick Your Poison XC, on March 15th, is the first race in SORBA’s Chattanooga Race Series. The trails are beginner-friendly and along the riverside, offering plenty of great views. The hills are fairly short and not too steep, although there are a few slightly challenging downhills and a couple of sections that are quite root filled. The track is nice and narrow, with a few interesting turns through the tight trees. Choose your distance and race it hard or just have fun.
8. Soul Sucker 50k and 25k Mountain Bike Races
If you haven’t already fallen in love with Raccoon Mountain’s trails, you will after you ride Livewire 1 and 2. The trail is 5.5 miles long and descends/climbs 1200 feet; High Voltage is 3 miles long and climbs/descends another 1200 feet. The Soul Sucker 50k & 25k, on April 11th, celebrates the newest additions to the mountain. It’s the perfect challenge for the spring.
Road Biking Option:
9. 28th Annual 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge
A favorite for locals and out of towners alike, the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge, happening on May 2nd this year, provides riders with a choice of 3 routes this year: a full century (includes 3 mountains and travels through 3 states), a metric century (includes 1 mountain and travels through 2 states), and a 25 mile route (no mountains and travels rolling roads in 2 states). 2015 celebrates the return of the "old" course which had riders climbing Suck Creek Mountain.