68th AuSable River Canoe Marathon July 25-26

One of the Greatest Canoe Races on Earth: 68th AuSable River Canoe Marathon July 25-26

The 68th edition of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon – a grueling 120-mile overnight non-stop canoe race from Grayling to Oscoda, Michigan – is coming Saturday & Sunday, July 25-26.

Presented in 2015 by Consumers Energy and the Michigan Army National Guard – the AuSable Marathon is the middle leg of the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing.

This canoe race is exceptional 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.

Photo courtesy of AuSable River Canoe Marathon
The teams battle the darkness, river obstructions, frequently adverse weather conditions and sheer exhaustion during the course of the 120-mile race that includes running portages around six Consumers Energy hydro 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.

Thousands of fans follow the action from the frenzied LeMans-style running start to the river that begins the race in Grayling, on to viewing locations at bridges, public access points and dam portages to cheer on the teams throughout the race to the finish line in Oscoda. 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 Michigan National Guard's history has been intertwined with that of the AuSable Canoe Marathon. Personnel assigned to the Camp Grayling host units have participated as Marathon Paddlers and Marathon Volunteers helping to make the event the success it is today.  The Michigan Army National Guard Recruiting Command for Northern Michigan provides this year's partnership to congratulate the participants, volunteers and fans of this outstanding event. This partnership also serves as a salute to the young men and women who step forward to serve in our armed forces and to thank them for a job well done.

For the first time in the history of the race, fans will also be able to follow the race online thanks to additional support provided by Consumers Energy as the Technology & Social Media Sponsor. Information transmitted by satellite GPS tracking devices in each canoe will frequently update each teams' position on a map hosted on the AuSable Marathon website – AuSableCanoeMarathon.org.  A mobile app for following the race can be accessed at app.bluedot.mobi.

Regarding their continuing and increased support of the AuSable Marathon, William Schoenlein, Consumers Energy manager of hydro & renewable generation commented, "It is special for Consumers Energy because of our 104 year history on the AuSable and it means a lot to our employees at the hydro plants. We want to see the race continue to thrive and support more people following the race, such as through the use of GPS this year."

Photo courtesy of AuSable River Canoe Marathon
Fans following the race in person or online can tune into AuSable Marathon coverage, including frequent live updates throughout the race. Race coverage will be carried in north central Michigan by WQON 100.3-FM and WGRY 101.1-FM, and, in north-east Michigan on HitsFM 94.9-FM & 103.3-FM. For those outside of the broadcast area, online live streaming of AuSable Marathon coverage can be accessed by clicking on the "Listen Live" link at q100-fm.com or at HitsFM.net  Both stations' live stream can also be accessed via TuneIn Radio at tunein.com

Michigan's Andy Triebold and Quebec's Steve Lajoie are almost universally considered to be the team to beat. Triebold, 39, of Grayling, Michigan and Lajoie, 39, of Mirabel, Quebec have seven consecutive AuSable Marathon victories and eight overall. They are the winningest team in Triple Crown of Canoe Racing history. New York's General Clinton Canoe Regatta, the AuSable Marathon and Quebec's Classique Internationale de canots de la Mauricie comprise the three stages of canoe racing's Triple Crown.

AuSable Marathon Week opens with the Consumers Energy Da$h For Ca$h at 5:30pm on Tuesday, July 21. The Dash is a single-elimination, "drag-race" event held at the AuSable Finish Line Park in Oscoda, with a cash purse of $5,000.  Teams sprint 1/4 mile two-at-a-time, producing an exciting evening of racing with a lot of thrilling photo finishes.

Next up are the Time Trial Sprints, Wednesday through Friday afternoon, July 22-24 at Penrod's Resort in Grayling.  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 25, in Grayling. The race gets underway with the running start to the river signaled by the crack of the starter's pistol at 9 p.m. sharp. The leaders are expected to arrive at the finish line in Oscoda shortly after 11 a.m.; teams must finish within 19 hours (by 4 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 - oscoda.com

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