The Scenic City has decided it's up for the challenge - the Get Out Chattanooga Challenge, that is- and there's still time to get in on the action. The inaugural 10K obstacle race presented by Get Out Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Times Free Press will weave its way through the heart of downtown Chattanooga on March 23.
"It's going to be the biggest, most extreme obstacle race in the Southeast," says Sara Bass, wellness coordinator for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
"Chattanooga has its own unique culture- it's the perfect city for it. We are taking iconic parts of Chattanooga's culture and we're making them big parts of the race. The community can embrace it and it will be something they can be proud of. I mean, who doesn't love Chattanooga?"
Loaded with extreme obstacles and eye-catching action, the race is a one-of-a-kind addition to our beloved region that's already brimming with outdoor adventure. Not to mention- it's packed full of Chattanooga personality. The race will showcase the iconic symbols of the city as participants crawl over the caboose of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, race through the streets of downtown, splash through frigid water that the Tennessee Aquarium's penguins normally inhabit and scale a full-size "See Rock City" barn, among eight other off-the-wall obstacles.
"The obstacles may sound extreme but they are not impossible," says Jason Taylor, president of the Chattanooga, Times Free Press. "Don't be surprised what your body can do. It sounds intimidating, but it's about total fitness."
Wet sneakers from wading through the penguin's freezing water are sure to put a damper on the festivities after the race. Be sure to bring an extra pair of shoes so you can enjoy your celebratory beer, outdoor films and general high-fives in style.
For those not facing the challenge, keep up with your favorite racer during the event on Facebook and Twitter.
Before the Get Out Chattanooga Challenge, runners will receive a link to the event's app. Within the app, runners can choose to have updates sent to their Facebook or Twitter accounts, based on an electronic chip attached to their race bib. Race officials will track the runners' time electronically at various points throughout the race.
The race is also built to be a spectator event, and the entire city can line up along the course to watch runners tackle each wacky obstacle. "I ran a similar race recently in Chicago and after I was done, I just wanted to stay and watch because it was just so entertaining," laughs Taylor.
Each runner who completes the race will receive a medal and, of course, life-long bragging rights for the challenge they mastered. "Whenever they are done they are going to be so proud of themselves. They will be able to say, 'I climbed the Rock City barn,'" says Lyndsi Lane, marketing and public relations coordinator of the Chattanooga Challenge. "It will be very exhausting but very rewarding."
Proceeds from the race are going back to benefit the Chattanooga community. "All the money is going toward the Chattanooga Times Free Press Foundation. The newspaper always gives cash donations to over 200 nonprofits in the community.
Traditionally that's been out of operating capital. We decided we wanted to create a foundation that will be self-sustaining over time, thought we will still contribute. This will be the signature event that funds the foundation," says Lane.
Lane adds that the Chattanooga Times Free Press hopes the Chattanooga Challenge will become a staple on the city's calendar for years to come.
To be part of Chattanooga history in the making, register for the Get Out Chattanooga Challenge at: GETOUTCHATTANOOGA.COM
The cost is $45 for individuals and $160 for teams. Participants in the challenge can register as late as race day. Registration includes a medal, T-shirt and free beer token.
Once the 10k race launches at Ross's Landing, runners will face the Riverfront Car Crawl, a challenge that requires them to army crawl under a barricade of Volkswagen's finest.
After runners make their way to the Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar, they will discover an interesting challenge with a favorite locally bottled beverage, CocaCola. Runners are advised to prepare to maneuver around, through and possibly even carry a boatload of Coca-Cola.
At Scrappy Moore Field, Ace Hardware will challenge racers in their level of agility. Participants can expect ropes, tires and general running, swinging, pushing and crawling.
The feats of strength continue with Sports Barn's marine hurdles at First Christian Church. If you don't already know what marine hurdles are, Google it ... and be afraid.
Nothing will move this mountain, one way or another, runners will have to climb up and over an enormous mountain made out of newspapers and make their way back down to continue.
At the Chattanooga Choo Choo, racers will climb over the Choo Choo caboose itself, with the help of a very handy cargo net draped over the structure.
Race participants must scramble their way up the steps of Finley Stadium. And there are a lot of steps ...
In a bone-chilling obstacle set up by the Tennessee Aquarium, runners will splash their way through water that's kept at the same temperature the Aquarium's waddling emperor penguins inhabit.
Looming as the last obstacle racers must face back at Ross's Landing is a true-to-size replica of the famous "See Rock City" barn. To complete the challenge and cross the finish line, racers will climb up and over the bright red Chattanooga icon.
Alongside the first Get Out Chattanooga Challenge is a free festival full of music, vendors, food and beer from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Musicians including Kat Graham (also known as Bonnie from the hit show "The Vampire Diaries"), Jordan Hallquist, Sidecar Special, Soul Mechanic, Smooth Dialects and Jennifer Hope Brumlow featuring Callie Harmon will fill Ross's Landing with their music, a fitting celebration for those who faced the challenge head on.
After the sun goes down, a huge outdoor screen will light up the landing to showcase select films from the three-day inaugural Lookout Wild Film Festival. The film festival began as a small core group of outdoor enthusiasts/movie buffs in Chattanooga who wanted to give the city a new shock of culture. After sending out a call for filmmakers, the festival reached across the world to places like Argentina, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, France and, of course, the United States.
Participants and spectator s of the Chattanooga Challenge will get to finish out the evening with films about everything from skiing and rock climbing to kayaking and conversation.
"To have a festival that engages people in that outdoor experience is wonderful," says film festival board member and local hang glider Christina Holmes. "The Films document personal odysseys. The filter of their personal experience and their filmmaking combined is a beautiful thing."
The Get Out Chattanooga Challenge festival will only showcase a portion of the Lookout Wild Film Festival. It can be experienced in its entirety March 22-24. Find out more by visiting: LOOKOUTFILMFESTIVAL.ORG.