Triebold and Lajoie Lead The Pack For Start Of 72nd AuSable River Canoe Marathon

GRAYLING – It’s the craziest five minutes you may ever witness.

Paddlers and their canoes storm the AuSable River after a quarter-mile run for the traditional start of the Consumers Energy AuSable River Canoe Marathon.

After the time trials Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the reigning champions took the top spot in the field entering Saturday’s start.

There isn’t much of a surprise there. The team of Andy Triebold and Steve Lajoie have won 10 Marathons as a team and also set a new time record for Spike’s Challenge the week before.

But that’s what this year’s race has been, record breaking. There are a record number of women racing this year, a record number of teams from Minnesota and Texas, and also a record number of non-Michigan paddlers.

All of those were set before any canoes even took to the water.

Now that paddlers are on their way down the AuSable River for the 120 mile trip to Oscoda, there’s a chance we see another record broken by the time the winners cross the finish line.

“Those two right now are the champs, going on maybe 11 this time,” said Phil Weiler, the ARCM Media Spokesperson. “You got to beat them. The river’s up, the weather could be in their favor and they might have a shot at 13:58.”

13:58 as in doing the Marathon in 13 hours and 58 minutes, which would be another new record.

” It takes a lot of conditions. The water’s never been the same, the night, the humidity, the fog. I mean, even this year’s field is so much more qualified. You need someone to push you or to run with and this field has it,” added Weiler.

This year’s race has one of the most experienced paddlers in the top 20 that hit the river Saturday night.

Having such a historical year, with an already major event that draws international attention, only puts this race, the cities of Grayling and Oscoda, and the state of Michigan on the map even more.

“This is one of the marquee events up north here in this great state of Michigan and we love Michigan,” said Roger Curtis, the Vice President of Consumers Energy, who is the title sponsor of the race. “We work, live and play in Michigan and love Michigan just like all of you and to be a part of an event like this is so special to us to bring that hometown service, but now that hometown camaraderie is amazing.”

You can watch times and see where the races are on the Marathon’s website.