Canoe marathon entries exceed last year’s record field – A record number of teams have entered the AuSable River International Canoe Marathon for the second year in a row. Teams have entered from seventeen states and three Canadian provinces. As of July 15, 2011, there are 93 teams entered. Ninety two teams participated in the 2010 race. Due to the record number of teams, there has been an additional day, a total of three, scheduled for Time Trials. Traditionally, the sprints that place the teams in ranking order for the LeMans start have all been accomplished in two days.
Among the number of teams racing are five Husband & Wife Teams, 14 Mixed Teams (man and woman), and 21 Senior Teams (both 50 years and older). Additionally, there are eight Masters Teams (both 40 years and older), two Women’s teams, nine First Time Teams (both are first time paddlers) and one Youth Team (19 years old and under).
One of the Husband & Wife Teams is that of John & Cheryl Lucey. They are long time active marathon committee member volunteers and have raced in eight and six races respectively. Another racer who is very active in the racing community is Lynne Witte, President of the Michigan Canoe Racing Association. She is paddling her 32nd marathon. One of the most well-known racing teams is Al Widing, Sr., (86 years old) and Rick Joy (52). Al has competed in 39 marathons, and Rick in 34. The only Youth Team is also a First Time Team, Grayling brothers, Spencer and Wesley Dean.
The Weyerhaeuser AuSable River Canoe Marathon is the roughest, non-stop canoe race in North America and reported to be the toughest spectator sport in the world. The racecourse runs almost the entire length of the AuSable River, 120 miles. Paddlers begin by running LeMans style, carrying their canoes on their shoulders, on Saturday, July 30 at 9:00 p.m. near The Old AuSable Fly Shop with thousands of spectators cheering them on. Prior to the start of the marathon, the paddlers will be introduced and live entertainment will be provided. On Sunday morning, the Black Bear Bicycle Tour will depart for Oscoda in time to catch the paddlers at the end of their overnight adventure. The race ends Sunday, July 31 in Oscoda, MI on the shore of Lake Huron.
Marathon program books and merchandise are ready for this year’s event and available in a downtown storefront as well as at the marathon office located in the Grayling Mini Mall. The Marathon Merchandise store, located on Michigan Ave. near J.Dap and Riverland, is open Monday through Friday, July 18-22, 9am-5pm and Monday and Tuesday, July 25 & 26, 9am-5pm. Merchandise will be available at the Time Trials, located at Penrods Canoe Livery Wednesday through Friday, July 27-29 and near Citizens Bank on Saturday, July 30.
Additional information can be found on the marathon website, www.ausablecanoemarathon.org.
Contact: Suzanne Schlachter