You can fish, run, play disc golf, ride bikes or hoist your sail at these statewide events. Sports fans can also cheer on the competitors as they show off their athletic prowess.
Cycling is big in Tennessee, with competitions that feature top professional levels or local race participants. Watch the exciting road races and time trials of the USA Cycling Pro Road Championships, including paracycling in Knoxville, or the Oak Ridge Velo Classic and Three River Rumble. Columbia Cycling Club hosts the annual Chickasaw Trace Classic Mountain Bike Race on a 15km trail. Windrock Park in Oliver Springs, one of the best downhill mountain bike courses in East Tennessee, hosts national events and also rents mountain bikes to explore their 300 miles of raw terrain trails. Not looking for the thrill of competition? Take to the many biking trails and scenic roadways across Tennessee for a leisurely ride or a good workout.
An Ultra Adventure
The Barkley Marathon is one of the hardest races in the ultrarunning world. It takes place in the woods of Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg and was established when mountain-man Gary Cantrell rebuffed prisoner James Earl Ray’s failed attempt to escape the nearby Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in 1977. Cantrell completed the first official running of the 100-mile course in 1986. Competitors are given 60 hours to complete the race, made up of five loops of a 20-mile course with a total elevation gain of 60,000 feet – the equivalent of climbing and descending Mount Everest twice!
Angling to Win
Follow fishing tournaments across the state, taking in the amazing rivers and lakes popular for their bass, crappie and many other species. Bassmaster fishing tournaments offer every level of fishing competition from junior and high school to the Geico Bassmaster Classic, the biggest bass fishing tournament in the world. It draws thousands to watch the anglers and visit the Expo where you can find the latest tech and fishing gear. Be sure to follow the American Crappie Tour and Crappie USA Tournament Trail, where additional fun events for youngsters encourage fishing at an early age. Popular lakes for tournaments include Lake Chickamauga, Old Hickory, Kentucky Lake, Fort Loudon, Tellico and Watts Bar Lakes.
It Keeps You Running
Join the St. Jude Rock ’N’ Roll Nashville Marathon in April as a runner or supporter and you, too, will be dancin’ in the streets. Free concerts celebrate the runners who help raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. You can also lace up your shoes for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend in December or the Great American River Run Half Marathon and 5k, held as part of the annual Memphis in May International Festival.
Swim, Bike, Run
Mark your calendars for September to witness the Ironman Chattanooga. The Scenic City’s course winds through the Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River. Watch the entire 2.4-mile swim as you walk the Chattanooga Riverfront. The 116-mile bike ride traverses mountain roads and scenic overlooks. Join onlookers to cheer the athletes as they complete two loops of the 26.22-mile marathon through downtown Chattanooga. The celebration continues all weekend!
In the Basket
Disc golf is a challenging sport to try. Sharpen your skills playing courses at parks across the state such as Pickwick Landing in Counce and Meeman-Shelby Forest in Millington. Watch world-class competitors in Morristown, Tennessee’s Disc Golf Capital, where the State Disc Golf Championships are held annually. Johnson City has scored the spotlight as host city for the 2020 PDGA Professional Masters Disc Golf World Championships this August. You’ll be inspired to pack your discs and discover new courses on every road trip.
The Wind Beneath Your Sails
Do you thrill to the idea of skimming the water in brisk winds in a sailing regatta? Nashville-based Harbor Island Yacht Club on Old Hickory Lake and Percy Priest Yacht Club on Percy Priest Lake run sailing regattas year round. Sail camps for kids are offered by both yacht clubs during the summer, too. If you’d like to watch the regattas from the water, consider booking a cruise on your own sailboat. Check out other regattas with the Privateer Yacht Club in Chattanooga or Concord Yacht Club in Knoxville.
Anything But a Crawl
Stretch your abilities in the McMinnville Mountain Crawl, a test for the seasoned athlete, novice outdoors person or nature enthusiast. The adventure race is a combination of caving, biking and kayaking over unique terrain. The course begins with a 2-mile run/climb/crawl through Cumberland Caverns, a 7.4-mile bike ride that winds up in downtown McMinnville, ending with a 6-mile paddle down the Barren Fork River. You’ll need to bring your own bike, but kayaks are provided by Jackson Kayak. Challenge yourself to complete the course or enter a relay team and share the fun with friends.