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April 22, 2015

Kingsport, TN — The public is invited to compete and watch the Warrior's Challenge stand up paddleboard (SUP) race taking place Saturday, May 2, beginning at 9:30 at Warrior's Path State Park. Last year was the first of its kind in the TriCities, drawing athletes from all over the Southeast, and this year will be even bigger, extending the event to kayakers as well as SUP racers.
Organized by Southern Stoke Paddle Series (SSPS), a ten-race series that stretches from Tennessee to Alabama to Georgia to North Carolina, the Warrior's Challenge is the first race of the season. Two of the ten races will be in our area: Warrior's Challenge May 2 in Kingsport on Patrick Henry Lake and the Appalachian Challenge August 1 in Abingdon on South Holston Lake. It is sponsored locally by Tricities Stand Up Paddleboard (TriSUP) store in Bristol, TN.
Created to encourage the SUP sport on inland lakes, SSPS offers athletes the chance to compete in paddleboard races closer to home in the southeast. Up until now, all the competitions centered on coastal races meaning longer distances to travel and having to contend with waves, tides and other ocean hazards. SSPS races feature a long and a short course with points awarded to contenders. Prizes and awards will be given out through the organization and sponsors. The races are open to anyone wishing to test their skill and endurance against other SUP enthusiasts, even if you are a beginner.
"These races are very beginner friendly, which is good as most people in our region are new to the sport," explains Jack Nelson, manager of TriSUP, the only dedicated SUP store in the area. Nelson, a competitive racer himself, was involved in the early stages of developing the Series. The idea was to create some fun events centered around places that have SUP shops to help spur the sport on in the Southeast. The series has the potential to pump money into local economies as out of town visitors flock to the races and fill up hotels and restaurants.
Virtually unknown locally just a few years ago, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is sweeping the nation and more people in Tricities are seen on area lakes and rivers each year. SUPing began in Hawaii not very long ago and spread quickly to the West Coast. The first SUP race was held in Tahoe City, CA, in 2007 and has become a frequent sight on both coasts in the last few years. It was only a matter of time before the fun activity found its way to the beautiful TVA lakes of our region.
With paddleboarding growing in popularity across the country, many people have discovered the activity is great for fitness, fun and even yoga. The Outdoor Foundation's 2013 report cited "stand up paddling as the most popular outdoor activity among first-time participants" and the official US Coast Guard blog "Compass" says SUPing "is the fastest growing water sport in the world." Tricities residents can give it a try during the free demonstrations at the race events.
The TriSUP store was opened two years ago and is located next to the Paramount theater in downtown Bristol. As a dedicated SUP store, TriSUP has the widest selection of boards and accessories as well as knowledgeable staff.
"Getting the right fit is very important," Nelson notes. "Not only is your weight and height a factor in choosing a board, knowing what your goals are is important too. There are SUPs for cruising, racing and even whitewater paddling. We take all this into account to make sure you start off with the right equipment perfect for you."
For more information about the races or SUPs in general, visit www.Trisup.net. TriSUP is located at 514 State Street, Bristol, TN, 423-652-0220 and is open Monday -