Your Superfriendly Spectator’s Guide to IRONMAN Chattanooga – Updated for 2017!
Thank you to Dan Henry / www.biciphoto.com for providing us with this awesome photo of Chattanooga!
IRONMAN Chattanooga returns to the Scenic City on Sunday, Sept. 24. This year marks four out of the five triathlons that Chattanooga will host. The city will be welcoming thousands of spectators for race events beginning Sept. 22. The last few years have gone extremely well, and we can’t wait to watch racers compete in our city again!
This year is the only year that one city has hosted four IRONMAN events. We hosted the Sunbelt Bakery Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 back in May, and the IRONMAN 70.3 Men and Women’s World Championship earlier in September!
If you’re coming to Chattanooga to watch the race, it’s a good idea to plan things in advance. What better way to map out your IRONMAN experience than with a little help from your superfriends (and Chattanooga locals), the Papercut team?
Here’s our guide to the where and what of IRONMAN Chattanooga, plus some good places to eat and fun things to do around town.
Want a printable version of this guide to take with you on race day to make spectating easier? We’ve got you covered!
Race Day Logistics
Let’s start with the most important stuff first. Below are our recommendations on where to park, how to get around, and the best spots to watch the race:
- When? 6am-6:30am
- Where? Finley Stadium, the Northshore, CARTA South Garage near the Choo Choo
- Carta Electric Shuttle – Runs from the CARTA South Garage to points throughout downtown. Service is available all day. Best part? It’s free.
- Bike Chattanooga – A bike rack is located at Finley Stadium. Rentals run for 24 hours, but bikes must be returned within an hour of being checked out. Once you return a bike, you can immediately check out another. Additional racks are located throughout the city including several spots near the transition area.
Where to Watch the Swim:
- Walnut Street Bridge – Chattanooga’s famous pedestrian bridge will be one of the best places to watch the swimmers as they head down the Tennessee River.
- Ross’s Landing – For a view of the swim that’s a little closer to the water, head to Ross’s Landing. The swim ends here. The bike race also starts and ends here if you want to catch both.
Where to Watch the Bike:
- Chickamauga, GA – Two loops of the bike race will pass through Chickamauga, GA. Stake out a spot on Lee Avenue for race viewing. If you watch the end of the swim at Ross’s Landing, you will have plenty of time to hop back in your car and catch the athletes in Chickamauga. Parking is available at Gordon Lee High School and 12th Street. IRONMAN will also have a sponsored shuttle running from Ross’s Landing.
Note: If you’re driving to Chickamauga, we do not advise traveling through St. Elmo, as racers will be passing through this area. The less car traffic there is, the safer the course is for the racers. Try going through Rossville, GA to get to Chickamauga.
Where to Watch the Run:
- Bluff View Art District, Frazier Avenue or the Walnut Street Bridge — Two race loops will pass through these areas.
- Playground off of Riverview Rd — This is a good spot for spectators with kids. Two loops will pass through this area.
- Finish Line at Ross’s Landing — Obviously you’ll want to see some racers finish. We hear that the midnight finishers are pretty fun to watch.
What to Wear:
Comfort is the name of the game. It’s going to be a long day, and Chattanooga can still be hot and muggy, even at the end of September. We suggest:
- Comfortable shoes (old running shoes, preferably)
- Breathable fabric t-shirt
- Sweatshirts or light coats for morning and night
What to Pack:
Bring the following supplies with you on race day:
- Refillable water bottle
- Phone Charger
Where to Eat on Race Day – Our Favorite Chattanooga Restaurants
The IRONMAN race is an all-day event, and you’re bound to get hungry. Here are some of our favorite Chattanooga restaurants along the race route:
- Starbucks (Centrally located on Broad Street in the Sheraton Read House hotel)
- Rembrandt’s Coffee House (Run/swim course)
- Stone Cup Café (Run/swim course. This is also right next to the Papercut office. We get coffee here – a lot.)
- Panera Bread (Centrally located on Market Street in downtown)
- Revelator (Run/swim course. This is on the corner on the Market Street bridge and Frazier Avenue)
- Blue Plate (Ross’s Landing near swim finish/bike transition)
- Aretha Frankensteins (On Tremont Street near run course/Walnut Street Bridge)
- Milk & Honey (North Market Street near run course/Walnut Street Bridge)
- Melon Patch (Chickamauga, GA along bike course)
- Good Dog (Frazier Avenue along run course)
- Taconooga (Frazier Avenue along run course – would be good for dinner, too)
- Sitar (On Market Street near the Walnut Street Bridge and swim viewing area)
- Embargo 62 (On Cherokee Boulevard near the Walnut Street Bridge, Frazier Avenue, and the run viewing area)
- Tony’s (Bluff View Art District along run course)
- Beast & Barrel (Frazier Avenue along run course)
- Boathouse (Riverside Drive along run course)
- Il Primo (Riverview along run course)
- Las Margaritas (Riverview along run course)
- Hennen’s (Chestnut Street at Ross’s Landing near bike/run transition area – this is on the fancier side)
- Tremont Tavern (Riverview along run course. This place also serves what is arguably the best burger in Chattanooga.)
- Brewhaus (Frazier Avenue along run course)
- Basecamp (Frazier Avenue along run course. They also allow dogs on their patio.)
Need Late-night Eats?
- Mellow Mushroom (Open until 10:00pm. Located on Broad Street near Ross’s Landing and the bike/run transition area.)
- Big River Grille & Brewing Works (Open until 12:00am. Located on Broad Street near Ross’s Landing and the bike/run transition area.)
- Champy’s (Open until 10p.m. Located on East MLK Boulevard, they serve some of the best fried chicken in Chattanooga.)
- City Café Diner (Open 24 hours. Located on Carter Street in downtown.)
- Hair of the Dog (Open until 3:00am. Located on Market Street in downtown.)
Looking for a Grocery or Convenience Store?
Other Things to Do – Fun Chattanooga Attractions
If you’re taking a break from watching the race or you’re staying in Chattanooga before or after the big day, check out some of our favorite local attractions:
- Tennessee Aquarium (Located on Broad Street in downtown near finish line)
- Rock City (1400 Patten Road on Lookout Mountain – overlooks the bike course)
- Ruby Falls (1720 South Scenic Highway on Lookout Mountain)
- The Incline Railway (3917 St. Elmo Avenue at the bottom of Lookout Mountain)
- Creative Discovery Museum (Located on Chestnut Street in downtown)
- High Point Climbing Gym (Located on Broad Street in downtown near the finish line)
- Hunter Museum of American Art (Located at 10 Bluff View overlooking the swim and run courses)
Get Out and Enjoy It!
Watching an IRONMAN race is exciting and exhilarating. We hope this guide helps you make the most of the experience and your time in Chattanooga. If you have a specific racer you’re following, you can track them online or using an app. IROMAN has recently updated their app, and it seems to be great. You can find it on their website when you click on “athlete tracker”. And, if you can’t make it to town to see the race, you can watch online live coverage here.