In a busy day for area outdoors activities this Saturday, one that stands out is Stand up.
Stand up paddleboard, that is, or SUP as participants call it.
Chattanooga shop L2 Boards is one of the sponsors of the Tennessee SUP Championship Series, and that includes an event Saturday on Parksville Lake in Polk County: the Ocoee Classic Double Points Race, starting at 10 a.m.
A paddler doesn't have to be part of the overall six-event series to enter. The series began with the Cinco de Mayo Race at the Chickamauga Dam recreation area on May 5, and races were held at Knoxville and Oak Ridge in the past month.
L2 Boards also ran a non-series event June 15 at Coolidge Park -- the Kewl Race that included climbing and running stages with paddleboarding on the Tennessee River.
According to Bethany Smithers, who manages the L2 shop for owner Mark Baldwin and coordinates the events, the Cinco de Mayo included almost 40 SUP competitors in 11 beginner and elite divisions. The participants ranged in age from 12 to senior citizens.
"And that was not the best day weather-wise," she said Wednesday. "It was stormy and rainy and nasty. We had about 50 for the Kewl Race, which benefited the Audubon Society."
For Saturday's race from Parksville Lake Beach on U.S. Highway 64, about 40 were entered as of Thursday night, Smithers said, including a group of six Floridians added to the total Thursday. That made seven registrants from Florida in all. Depending on the weather, which has become a little iffy, this race could end up with close to 100 "from pretty much all corners of the Southeast," Smithers said.
The sport clearly is growing in the region.
"We sold three racing paddleboards last year, and this year we've been selling boards that can be used for racing once or twice a week," the store manager said.
The Ocoee Classic is more than a SUP race, she emphasized. The event includes a Milele Roots concert and a group campout Saturday night at the High Country Outfitters and a discounted Ocoee River rafting trip through High Country Outfitters on Sunday.
Elite paddleboarder Reid Nelson will conduct a clinic Friday evening. It costs $50.
"We wanted to make a weekend of it. It's such a beautiful area," Smithers said. "But someone can come up and just do the race."
The race includes men's and women's unlimited, 14-foot, 12-6 and surf style divisions and a juniors category for ages 13-17. The beginner course is a three-mile loop; the elite racers do the loop twice.
Two of the competitors will be Dottie Hodges and her husband Hal Turner of Signal Mountain. They bought a family board in 2011 and now have four boards, including a 12-6 racing one for Turner this summer.
Hodges got some tips from Baldwin and then participated in the River Rocks race last October.
"I did that race, and I was hooked," she said. "And my husband was hooked, too, just watching me. The sport is so friendly; everybody is welcoming. Pros will just come up to you and give you advice."
She and Turner did two races in Atlanta this year, going from the three-mile distance to six in the second of those -- he on the 12-6, she on her 11-2 -- and they're looking forward to doing six miles again Saturday.
In addition to entry fees, a U.S. Forest Service parking charge of $3 will be assessed each vehicle.
The Tennessee SUP series will continue Sept. 21 in Nashville and Oct. 5 back in Chattanooga.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.