This has been a crazy process that started when I registered for a hotel on the same day I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga. I thought I was staying right next to transition, but inadvertently reserved the same chain hotel in Hamilton Place. Granted, it’s only about a 10 minute drive, but that’s the point. It’s a drive, and I want to relax on both sides of this grueling bastard.
About 6 weeks ago I realized my hotel mistake and started scrambling for a room. I booked rooms near Lookout Mountain, then cancelled those when I thought I made a great score at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel. Then two weeks ago I went to Chattanooga to run the course and we stayed at the Choo Choo.
The lobby is a massive, high ceiling, ex-train depot situation, that is actually pretty cool. And it seems rather normal until they send you out to “Building 3.”
First of all, we had to drive, and it’s not really a short trip. You curl around the back of a rail yard of train cars (which double as rooms) and at first sight I thought I’d somehow booked a room in bombed ruins.
I think my actual thought was, “This is some fancy ass medieval hospitality.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I like cool, old shit, but this just felt a little strange. Like something out of a Stephen King novel and I’m not sure that’s how you want to rest before an Ironman.
But, I kept an open mind because the manager was gracious enough to upgrade us to a suite, and the room wasn’t actually that bad. But it just felt, oh, neglected. Maybe there just weren’t enough guests in Building 3 that night?
We had a corner balcony with a nice view of the pool, which has incredible potential, but I couldn’t help but think I’d wake up to headless jousting in the courtyard.
The other thing with Building 3 is that it is a long ass ways from the street, at least a half mile, and if you’re like me, walking is harder than running at this point in the game. You walk down a row of dozens of old train cars, which is juicy in theory, but just so desolate it feels like an Agatha Christie mystery in process.
The thing about the Choo Choo is that it should be amazing! It is dripping with character and with some better lighting, carpet, and a major clean, this place could be a gem.
In the meantime, bring your broadsword, battle ax, and war hammer to play along with the fantasy before you crush your Ironman.