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North America’s Toughest, Richest Canoe Race
AuSable River Canoe Marathon July 29-30, 2017
The 70th edition of North America’s toughest, richest canoe race – a grueling 120-mile overnight non-stop marathon from Grayling to Oscoda, Michigan – is upcoming July 29-30. The AuSable River Canoe Marathon is the middle leg of the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing and is also widely recognized as one of the greatest canoe races on Earth.
The AuSable River Canoe Marathon is exceptional among endurance sport competitions in many respects. More than 80 professional two-person canoe racing teams from throughout the U.S. and Canada are entered. They will paddle at an amazing rate of 50-80 paddle strokes per minute for 14 to 19 hours in sleek hi-tech carbon-fiber racing canoes that weigh less than 30 pounds, some costing $5,000 or more.
The teams battle the darkness, river obstructions, frequently adverse weather conditions and sheer exhaustion during the course of the 120-mile race that includes six running portages around hydroelectric dams. At various locations along the way they receive food, drink, clothing changes and other support from “feeders”, or pit crews. The top teams vie for a share of the $50,000 cash & prizes purse, the richest in canoe racing.
Thousands of fans follow the action from the frenzied LeMans-style running start to the river that begins the race, on to viewing locations at bridges, public access points and dam portages to cheer on the teams throughout the race. Thousands more fans encourage the competitors from riverfront cabins and homes along the fabled AuSable River, many being the site of Marathon parties where family and friends gather to catch a glimpse of the action. Up to 50,000 fans are expected to view at least some part of the race.
The Time Trial Sprints, Wednesday through Friday afternoon, July 26-28 at Penrod’s Resort in Grayling are similar to Sprint Cup or Indy Car qualifying, teams individually sprint a looped course downstream and back to score a time that determines their starting position for Saturday night’s run to the river with their canoes that starts the AuSable Marathon.
The main event pre-race program kicks off at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, July 29, in Grayling. The race gets underway with the running start to the river signaled by the crack of the starter’s pistol at 9:00 p.m. sharp. Thousands of fans will cheer on the racers throughout the night in into the afternoon on Sunday. The leaders are expected to arrive at the finish line in Oscoda shortly after 11:00 a.m.; teams must finish within 19 hours (by 4:00 p.m.) to be considered an official finisher.
The week-long AuSable River Festival takes place in conjunction with the AuSable Marathon in Grayling. For more information on Grayling area events and lodging, visit the Grayling Visitors Bureau – grayling-mi.com For more information on Oscoda area events and lodging, visit the Oscoda Convention and Visitors Bureau – www.oscoda.com
For more information about the AuSable River Canoe Marathon: