Chattanooga poses a challenge to even the most seasoned of athletes when it comes to extreme events for ultra runners, mountain bikers, open water swimmers, rock climbers, and drag strip racers alike. If it involves a little risk and a lot of thrill, the Scenic City will draw a crowd.
With a name that references the Greek god of the wild and mountains as well as two historical points in the Tennessee River Gorge (Pan Gap and Pan Rapid), Pangorge was founded as a solo or team point-to-point race in 2014. This is an event for the elite athlete ready to be given a map of Suck Creek in order to run, paddle, and bike as necessary to mandatory checkpoints throughout the day. Speed matters, but the first person to the finish line isn’t necessarily the winner. You’ll choose your own course, arriving at checkpoints in the order of your liking, deciding whether to hit bonus checkpoints to earn negative time as well. Participants need to be proficient in mountain biking, running, paddling, and navigation and should expect to spend five to 10 hours on the course.
Next Event: November 1, 2021
An endurance mountain bike race considered one of the must-do Southeastern races, 5 Points 50 covers 50 miles of trails in Lula Lake Land Trust, the Cloudland Connector Trail, and private property. What makes the course exciting is that maps aren’t available ahead of time, and neither is the opportunity to ride the complete course for practice. Thirty-five miles into the race, participants will hit privately owned land that’s closed to mountain bikers every other day of the year, and the mystery behind these tracks is part of what draws a crowd. The race trail system is the result of collaboration between SORBA Chattanooga, Cloudland Canyon State Park, and Lula Lake Land Trust. Post-race, the 5-Points-50 is known for its post-race festival-style celebration that includes music, food, vendors, and camping. For those who don’t want to tackle the 50, the 2021 fall event will include a 25-mile course as well.
Next Event: October 9, 2021
Brainerd Motorsports Park Events
In the 1950s, hot rods and drag racing were relatively new, and reaching for speed fascinated car enthusiasts. However, there weren’t many places to do it safely. In Chattanooga, a car club called the Road Masters came up with a plan to move racing from the street to a strip. The Brainerd Optimist Club offered an investment of $20,000 to build a site in Hixson, Tennessee. Now located just over the Georgia state line in Ringgold, Brainerd Motorsports Park is a quarter-mile drag strip still often referred to by regional enthusiasts as Hixson Drag Strip, Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip, or simply “Brainerd.” Well-maintained with poured concrete barriers and covered stands, the park hosts events including Open Outlaw Racing, Tuesday Night Street Drags, Summer Heat Triples, and IHRA Summit Super Series Point Races March through November of each year.
Next Event: For a complete schedule, click here.
Chattanooga 100 Mile / 50 Mile
Ten thousand feet of elevation gain (and an equal amount of loss) is what trail runners will face at the Chattanooga 100 Mile. But race organizations say it’s not an event built for extreme difficulty. Instead, appreciation for this race hinges more on beauty. As you make your way through trails inside Cloudland Canyon State Park, Lula Lake Land Trust, and the national battlefield, you’ll see waterfalls, sprawling ridgelines, and – as the day comes to a close – Chattanooga city lights below. The race begins at Frazier Avenue in downtown Chattanooga and finishes at Chattanooga Brewing Company on Chestnut Street, with a 33-hour time limit on the event. Runners will need a windbreaker, space blanket, headlamp, collapsible cup, and water bottle, plus one drop bag. For details on crewing and safety runners, consult race guidelines.
Next Event: March 11-12, 2022
Swim the Suck
A 10-mile open water swim in the Tennessee River Gorge, Swim the Suck is hosted by Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers (C.O.W.S.) and is sanctioned by United States Masters Swimming (USMS). Swimmers are permitted one volunteer kayak pilot to assist with guidance and food. Before committing to the race, keep in mind that swimmers should be able to complete the course in under six hours, and currents will depend on water releases from the TVA Chickamauga Dam. To estimate their chance of race completion, athletes are asked to consider whether they can swim one mile of open water in less than 36 minutes. The race follows the Marathon Swimmers Federation rules for Marathon Swimming for Standard Equipment. Swim the Suck finisher awards will be handmade by a local Chattanooga artist. The race begins at Suck Creek Boat Launch and ends at Tennessee River Gardens.
Next Event: October 9, 2021
Triple Crown Bouldering Series
Part triple-city bouldering event and part fundraiser for the Southeastern Climbers’ Coalition and The Carolina Climbers’ Coalition, the Triple Crown Bouldering Series is hosted on separate weekends at Hound Ears in Boone, North Carolina; Stone Fort in Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Horse Pens 40 in Steele, Alabama. Also known by local climbers as Little Rock City, Stone Fort is a renowned maze of sandstone boulders in the forested land near Montlake club house. Competition brackets include male and female novice (V0-V2), intermediate (V3-V5), advanced (V5-V6), and open (V7-Vsick), plus unisex categories Junior (12 and under), Ancient Hard Person (35 years and up), Stone Master (45 years and up), and Star Chaser (all ages).
Next Event: TBD
Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race
A three-day, 60-mile mountain-trail race, this event was founded by Chattanooga’s Randy and Kris Whorton after participating in the seven-day Swiss Jura Marathon in 2006, in which they ran through the Jura Mountains from Geneva, Switzerland, to Basel and were surprised they could handle the physical demands. A part of the Wild Trails Race Series, Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race requires teams to run each of the three trail loops six times, in equal parts. For a relay team with three members, for example, each team member would run each trail loop twice. The race includes 18 miles on Raccoon Mountain, 20 miles on Signal Mountain, and 22 miles on Lookout Mountain, with cutoff times based on a 13-minute-per-mile pace. Evenings include a social event at The Crash Pad.
Next Event: June 18-20, 2021
Lookout Mountain 50 Miler
Starting at Covenant College, the Lookout Mountain 50 Miler moves runners through single track trails across Chattanooga National Military Park, along Lookout Creek, past scenic bluff views, and across creeks to Lula Lake Land Trust. Athletes will start out on flat, fast land then meet challenging climbs and moderate descents, passing the 120-foot Lula Falls. Runners say it’s the historic touches that make the race spectacular. Ochs Gateway, for example, is named for land preservationists Adolph and Milton Ochs. Guild-Hardy Trail is an old railroad bed. You’ll also pass Civil War monuments and cannons, plus Cravens House, which saw battle during the Battle of Lookout Mountain and was rebuilt by Chattanooga industrialist Robert Cravens in 1866.
Next Event: December 18, 2021