Racers from Knoxville, Atlanta, Chattanooga, and East Tennessee competed Sunday in the first stand up paddleboarding, or SUP, competition in Oak Ridge.
The new event was called the Secret City SUP Classic, and it featured two afternoon races at the Oak Ridge Marina on Melton Lake Park. One was a two-mile fun race, and the other was a seven-mile elite race.
It’s part of a new human-powered sports initiative in Oak Ridge, said Sam Jones, sales manager for the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau. That initiative also includes the Neon Vibe 5K—an after-dark, fluorescent glow light fun run—scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21, at A.K. Bissell Park.
People in the recreation industry say SUP is a fast-growing sport with a Hawaiian heritage.
Organizer Theresa Phillips competed in a SUP race in Chattanooga last year.
“There were other races in the other large cities, and this was the perfect place to do it,” said Phillips, who is involved with a relatively new Oak Ridge sports committee and whose husband manages Caney Creek RV Resort and Marina in Harriman.
She said Oak Ridge is a great venue, has flat water, and there are a lot of other activities in the area.
Sunday’s Secret City SUP Classic was part of the Tennessee SUP Championship Series.
Phillips said participants competed on paddleboards larger than surfboards. Most boards at Sunday’s races were 11’6″, 12’6″, or 14′. Racers competed in 15 categories, including men’s, women’s, and a 50-and-over category.
Jones said the 33 competitors paddled on a course that extended a mile downstream from the marina and a mile upstream.
Jones said Adventures Outdoors at Oak Ridge Marina regularly rents paddleboards for those who might be interested in trying the sport.
Organizers are already planning for the second stand up paddleboarding competition, and they said next year’s races could include time trials.