RiverRocks brings in swimmers from 27 states, showcases Chattanooga's outdoor scene

Swimmers wait at the starting rope as the announcer counts down to the start of the race at the Swim the Suck event held on Suck Creek in Chattanooga.

If you go

SaturdayChattanooga Head RaceRaces begin from Ross’s Landing at 9 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m.Swim the SuckThe race begins at the Suck Creek boat launch at8 a.m. and ends on private property downstream.High Point Speed ClimbThis is an open event at High Point’s Broad Street facility, with walk-up climbers invited to register from 2-3 p.m. before the climbing starts at 3.SundayUrban/Nature 10kThis 8 a.m. run begins and ends at Coolidge Park. Race day registration is $20.

The Tennessee River will be teeming with life Saturday, and so will the outdoor haven of a city that it winds through, as a month-long frenzy of outdoor recreation gets underway.

RiverRocks officially began with a rain-soaked 50k trail run on Signal Mountain and Walden's Ridge last Saturday, but five events - four of them in the heart of the city - highlight the annual festival's second weekend.

"It's a really fun time to be in Chattanooga if you're into the outdoors because there are so many people from, really, all over the world," Rock/Creek marketing director Mark McKnight said.

Swim the Suck and the Chattanooga Head Race will take over the river on Saturday morning, while the Lula Lake 5-Points 50 will send mountain bikers to Lookout Mountain, Ga., for an 8 a.m. start.

"They stitched together some really cool private property for that, as well, that some landowners let us use to make that 50-mile course possible," McKnight said.

The High Point Speed Climb will be at High Point's Broad Street location on Saturday afternoon. Sunday's Urban/Nature 10k, which begins and ends in Coolidge Park, caps the weekend by taking runners through Stringers Ridge.

Swim the Suck is a 10-mile swim through the Tennessee River Gorge that is bringing in 93 swimmers from 27 states, Puerto Rico and Germany.

Andreas Faith, a professor and water-quality activist in Germany who eventually plans to swim the entire Tennessee River, is competing.

"It's pretty cool that he's here and other swimmers are excited about meeting him," said race director Karah Nazor.

Former U.S. Olympic swimmer Alex Meyer, who has competed in Swim the Suck before, is back again this year.

One-hundred-and-thirty kayakers are volunteering to paddle along with the swimmers as spotters, Nazor said.

Closer to downtown, the river will be filled with canoes all day for the Chattanooga Head Race, with more than 1,200 rowers from around the country competing in 61 heats from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday.

"No matter the weather, this is the most beautiful time to be in East Tennessee," McKnight said. "Even if you're not going to one of the events, you'll see people with paddle boards tied to the top of their cars, and all the different outdoor decals you're used to seeing in the windows. You'll see a lot of fit people walking around Chattanooga. It's a pretty fun time."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.