Going the Distance

Chattanooga's Ben Friberg started out kayaking...then he tried standup paddling whitewater and got hooked. Now Ben has added endurance paddleboarding to his list of loves, setting world records along the way.

If you’re ever out on the Tennessee River down around Chattanooga and you happen to see a man on a standup paddleboard moving really fast, odds are you’ve come across Ben Friberg. When Wild Side Guide Ken Tucker and photojournalist Barry Cross first met up with Ben, they tried using a trolling motor to follow alongside and get video. They quickly realized that would not work…even paddling against the current, Ben was much too fast. It’s not the first time someone’s struggled to keep up with him. In the sport of endurance paddleboarding, this world record holder seems to be leaving everyone behind.

Ben’s next big challenge is the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak race this summer. He expects it will take 10-20 days, paddling 18 hours a day to cover 1000 miles of river.There’s no support crew for this race, which means he will have to carry all his food and camping gear on his paddleboard. Only a third of the people who enter the race finish it. But Ben says he’s just looking forward to getting in the focused mindset an endurance race always brings.

Ben also races close to home. Every year he hosts a 31 mile SUP/Kayak race called Chattajack, that starts in Chattanooga, heading downstream through the Tennessee River Gorge and ending up on Nickajack Lake. The 2014 race is scheduled for October 25th. You can find out more at Chattajack.com or by visiting them on Facebook. One of the goals of the race is to raise public awareness about  the Tennessee River Gorge Trust,  protected the Tennessee River Gorge, the scenic backdrop for Chattajack, since 1981. The Trust, a community-supported nonprofit with a mission to preserve the Tennessee River Gorge, currently protects approximately 17,000 of the Gorge’s 27,000 acres. 

From show 2711

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