Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Au Sable River Canoe Marathon

It is 1947.  I am imagining a conversation that went something like this:

"Hey, Bill, I have an idea."
"What is your idea, John?"
"I am thinking that we should start a canoe race."
"John, there are a lot of canoe races out there."
"Well, this one will be different."
"How will your canoe race be different?"
"Well, we will start the race in Greyling, around 9PM on a Saturday night, then the race, which is really more of a marathon, will head east down the Au Sable River."
"OK, John.  Where will the race end?"
"Easy answer, Bill: Where the Au Sable River empties into Lake Huron."
"Are you crazy. John?  There are dams and other obstacles along the Au Sable.  Not to mention that will be course will be almost 120 miles long."
"I know that.  The canoeists will have to portage their canoes over the dams and the other things in their way.  And as for the length, well, it is a marathon."
"Sounds interesting.  Let's do it!"

That is how I imagine the first discussion about the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon went.  The Race, as it is also known as, has grown from a backwoods event dreamed up in the upper lower peninsula of Michigan in 1947m to one of the jewels in the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing.  The three races that make up the Tripe Crown are, The General Clinton Canoe Regatta, The Au Sable River Canoe Marathon, and la Classique de Canots de la Maurice.

Deirdre and I try to plan our vacation in the summer so that we are here for the end of the Race.  The Race is held the last weekend in July and this year, we had front row seats to the finish line.

The canoeists are two person teams, many of whom have corporate sponsors. Also, some teams make shirts for each running of the Race...

There is definitely an international flair to the race, as the winners for the past few years have been a Canadian-American Team.

Here is an image of the winners, Andrew Triebold and Steve Lajoie as they made the final turn for the past few hundred yards of the Race:

And here they are crossing the finish line:

It is also a great event to people watch...

Until next year...

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