Daily Dirt: Chattanooga IRONMAN, Pisgah Bike Patrol, and Smoky Telethon

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Your daily outdoor news bulletin for August 19, the day the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909 to much fanfare, only to be closed following the first race when two drivers, two mechanics, and two spectators were killed by the poorly paved surface:

Chattanooga Wins IRONMAN

That is, Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been selected to host an IRONMAN race in 2014, and every year after through 2018. Chattanooga becomes one of 11 United States cities that will host an IRONMAN, joining cities such as Boulder, CO, Kailua-Kona, HI, Lake Placid, NY, and Lake Tahoe, CA. Much like a bid for the Olympics, the Chattanooga Sports Committee and the Chattanooga Convention and Visitor Bureau worked on a proposal and beat out two other cities in the Southeast: Asheville, NC, and Hilton Head, SC. According to the Times Free Press, the race could bring in $40 million over the five year contract, making it the most profitable sporting event in Chattanooga since at least 1992, when the Sports Committee was formed. The Chattanooga IRONMAN consists of a 2.4-mile open-water swim (to take place in the Tennessee River), a 112-mile bike race (that may include Raccoon Mountain), and a 26.2-mile run (the marathon will wind through downtown, Southside, Riverview, and the North Shore. All stages are set up to be spectator friendly. IRONMAN Chattanooga will have a purse of $25,000, will qualify 50 for the 2015 IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii (the one you see on TV), and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America will be the official charity partner.

WNC Gets Bike Patrol

These are not your typical bike cops. Actually, they are not bike cops at all. Working with the North Carolina and U.S. Forest Service, the Pisgah Area Southern Off Road Bicycling Association has instituted a couple of volunteer bike patrols in are mountain biking hot spots. The first patrol was rolled out (get it?) in DuPont State Recreational Forest in June, and the latest in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest at the beginning of August. Bent Creek is one of the most popular mountain biking areas in the region, with 35 miles of mixed use trails. The patrollers will have no actual law or rule enforcement authority, they will be on the trails to “assist, educate, and inform,” providing basic mechanical assistance, talking to riders about responsible use of trails, trail etiquette, Leave No Trace, and providing basic first aid and CPR with the ability to call in more medical assistance if needed. The patrol will be out mainly on weekends and evenings, and you will be able to spot them by their black and red National Mountain Bike Patrol jerseys.

Telethon Raises $200K for Friends of the Smokies

By all accounts, the 19th annual “Friends Across the Mountains” telethon was a rousing success. The annual event raised a whopping $201,423 for the Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the park’s main fund raising organizations aimed at assisting the National Park Service in generating donations, raising public awareness and providing volunteers for projects. Sugarland Cellars, along with sponsors Dollywood, Mast General Store, Pilot Corporation, and Smartbank, plus hundreds of callers provided the funds. Sugarland alone presented a $20,000 check to the organization during the broadcast. Since 1995, Friends of the Smokies telethons have raised more than $2.9 million, a much needed supplement to the park, especially given the hit the whole park system took from the Sequestration.

Donations can still be made at http://www.friendsofthesmokies.org/


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