RiverRocks was created in 2010 by founders Mike and Stormy McGauley with a broad plan to highlight local healthy living and outdoor resources. That is still part of its mission, but organizers have also ramped up the idea of bringing world-class athletes to the city as well. In the first three years.
Current board chairman Paul Brock said the board felt it was trying to do too much in the past and was perhaps confusing people because of it. The number of events, and the geographical footprint have been reduced to about a dozen events, and Brock said this year’s event about showing off Chattanooga to adventure sport lovers from all over the world.
“When you get down to the core of it, we decided that we wanted to carve out something very something and that was to make Chattanooga the premiere fall outdoor place for adventure sports, and to bring these people to town and highlight all these great things we have.”
“There is nothing better than fall in Chattanooga and we want people to experience that.”
The ultimate goal is that some of those elite athletes might like it here enough to move permanently, he said.
Over the next two weekends, those athletes will participate in such events as a stump jump, a bike ride, canoe and kayaking races, a long-distance open-water swim, rock climbing and a stand-up paddleboard race. Medals will awarded to not only the winners, but in cases where the event is more about the challenge than winning, such as the Sequatchie Velley Century bike ride, medals will be awarded in categories such as youngest and oldest participants, or to the person who traveled the farthest to be here.
There are four events this weekend: the Sequatchie Valley Century, featuring rides of 100, 60 and 36 miles; the Rock Creek StumpJump 50k & 11 Mile Trail Race on Signal Mountain, the RiverRocks Canoe/Kayak Race; and the RiverRocks Sup (stand-up paddleboard) Race.
There will be seven more events next weekend.
Many of the events are not just for the hardcore, however, as several offer opportunities for anyone to participate and several others are designed for people who’d prefer to watch while enjoying the outdoors. RiverRocks actually got underway on Wednesday with Over the Edge, which saw local celebrities rappel 20 stories down the side of the SunTrust Bank building to raise money for Boy Scouts of America and RiverRocks. Round two of Over the Edge continues today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are two events featuring live music that bookend the two weekends.
This weekend, the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival will take place at Ross’s Landing and while not an official RiverRocks event, it is a big part of the weekend for many people.
“This year, you can watch the Canoe/Kayak Race at 10:30, and then 3 Sisters starts at noon and later the SUP [stand-up paddleboard] Race starts at 2,” said Dave Santucci, Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau vice president of marketing.
Santucci is also on the RiverRocks board, which has narrowed the focus of RiverRocks, he said, culling the number of events and making it more spectator friendly.
“It is more focused and more current, and we feel like there is something for everyone,” he said. “We’ve concentrated on the weekends, for example. I think a lot of people see the potential and we hope to grow this outdoor culture and want to encourage people to enjoy it.
The Medal Events
*Sequatchie Valley Century
8 a.m. Oct. 5
100-, 60- and 36-mile bicycle rides will begin at Sequatchie Valley High School, 7067 State Road 28.
*Rock|Creek StumpJump 50k & 11 Mile Trail Race
8 a.m. Oct. 5 RockCreek StumpJump 50k 7 11 Mile Trail Race
Signal Mountain Middle School, 2650 Sam Powell Drive
This is largest and most competitive 50k trail race in the Southeast. This race takes place on the beautiful singletrack of Signal Mountain and Walden Ridge, with more than 4,00 feet of elevation gain. You also have the option of tackling the 11-mile course.
*RiverRocks Canoe/Kayak Race
10:30 a.m. Oct. 5
There are divisions for single and tandem boats from beginners to elite.
*RiverRocks SUP Race
2 p.m. Oct. 5
Stand Up Paddleboarding is the hottest and fastest growing water sport in the world. As part of the Tennessee SUP Championship Series, this premier SUP event is the finale to a great season of SUP raci…
*Triple Crown of Bouldering
8 a.m. Oct. 12
Stone Fort, Montlake Golf Club, 9104 Brow Lake Road
World renowned climbers will converge to tackle the boulders during this second lef of the international competition.
*Stringer’s Ridge Urban Nature 10k
8 a.m. Oct 12
Hike begins directly under the Market Street Bridge.
*Chattanooga Head Race
8 a.m. Oct. 12
More than 1,200 rowers will compete in this annual event.
*Five Points Fifty
8 a.m. Oct. 12
Lula Lake Land Trust
It’s not a race, but a test of endurance and skill for mountain bikers and a chance to ride thrhgou the “sweetest singltrack in the county.”
*Swim the Suck 10 Mile Swim
9:30 a.m Oct. 12
Tennessee River Gorge
This event sold-old in 48 hours.
The Fourth Annual Swim the Suck is hosted by The Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers and Outdoor Chattanooga. It is a 10-mile, open water swim through the magnificent Tennessee River Gorge.
8 a.m. Oct. 13
The event will include running through and over trails, as well as off-road biking.
8 a.m. Oct. 26
Coolidge Park, 150 River St.
This 31 mile spectacular ride through the heart of the Tennessee River Gorge is open for registration. A mass start at Coolidge Park at 8 a.m. AM will include dozens of canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards.
Over the Edge—Presented by SunTrust Bank
9 a.m. -5 p.m. Oct. 3
SunTrust Bank Building, 736 Market St.
Local celebrities and civic leaders will rappel down the side of the 20 story builing to raise money for RiverRocks and Boys Scouts of America.
*Rock/Creek StumpJump Vendor Fair
10 a.m. Oct. 4
Coolidge Park, 150 River St.
The fair will feature merchandise including the latest in shoes, wearing apparel, equipment like; stand up boards, paddles, canoes, kayaks, bikes and more.
*The 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival
6 p.m. Oct. 4 and noon Oct. 5
Ross’ Landing, Riverfront Parkway
*Finale-The Block Party
5:30 p.m. Oct. 12
The Block, 215 Broad St.
Featuring Booker T. Jones, Radney Foster, Space Capone and Amber Fults & the Ambivalent Lovers in concert, as well as hot-air balloons buskers, a stunt bike show by On the Edge, the Trek Truck showcasing the latest in biking and other outdoor displays. Local multimedia artist Tim Hinck will use the High Point Climbing & Fitness outdoor climbing wall as a backdrop for a program featuring technology, sound, lighting and video footage of local athletes.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...