GRAYLING – The run-up to the 2018 edition of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, presented by Consumers Energy, was officially kicked off at the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, Thursday, March 25, in Grayling.
AuSable Marathon week is upcoming July 24-29, capped off by the 71st running of One of the Greatest Canoe Races on Earth!
A highlight of Thursday’ AuSable Marathon Opener event was the presentation of the $37,500 Presenting Sponsor check by Consumers Energy representative Jay Jacobs, continuing the energy provider’ strong support of the Northern Michigan world class event.
‘Consumers Energy is proud to continue our long-standing support of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, an exciting fan-focused event that highlights the beautiful natural resources we have in northern Michigan,’ said Jay Jacobs, Consumers Energy’ community affairs manager for northeastern Michigan. ‘In addition this year, we are looking forward to enhancing the festivities with our additional support of the Rabaska Race, which promises to provide another avenue of fun for fans of river sports.’
Consumers Energy’ level of sponsorship has been stepped up in 2018 supporting expansion of the Rabaska/R-9 racing events, which debuted as at the 2016 AuSable Marathon. Rabaskas, or voyager canoes, are wide 25-foot long ‘freighter’ canoes, originally utilized by explorers and settlers across the upper Great Lakes region.
Modern versions of these canoes have been raced in Quebec for many years and several Rabaska racing teams from Quebec travel to Michigan for this exciting nine-person-team competition, in cooperation with the ACRQ – the Rabaska Canoe Racing Association of Quebec.
Justin Griffith, Chair of the AuSable Marathon Oscoda volunteer committee, commented, ‘Consumers Energy strong continuing support of the Marathon
provides a firm foundation for the growth and improvement of this great race. Not only do they make a significant financial investment, via their sponsorship, they provide support in other ways, such as making their six AuSable River hydro facilities available to thousands of fans during the race.’
Highlighted at the Kickoff was the expansion and improvement of Grayling’ AuSable River Festival including a new, earlier date for the Classic Car Show on Saturday, July 21. An AuSable Marathon warmup race – the Spike’ Challenge Race – starts in Grayling on Sunday, July 22. One week earlier, another warmup race – the Curley Memorial Race – takes place in Oscoda. Canoe racing action kicks off for the season with the Klondike Challenge Weekend Race in Oscoda on Saturday, April 7.
AuSable Marathon Grayling volunteer committee Chair, Heather Tait, recognized the effort of AuSable Marathon volunteers, regional governmental agencies and many others.
‘Staging an event of this magnitude would not be possible without the dedicated effort of our volunteers, who are all fans of this
fantastic race. The cooperation and support of law enforcement, first responders, governmental agencies, amateur radio operators and other groups are all key to making the AuSable Marathon a world class event.’
Tait also noted that regional businesses support the Marathon by their participation as an AuSable Marathon sponsor or by purchasing an ad in the Marathon’ Official Program Book and that the 2018 sponsorship and program book ad sales will be wrapping up soon. Businesses interested in supporting the Marathon are encouraged to contact the Marathon via email: contact@AuSableCanoeMarathon.org
The AuSable Marathon starts with the frenzied LeMans-style run to river in Grayling at 9 p.m., Saturday, July 28. The two-person teams race 120-miles nonstop, overnight, more than 50,000 paddle strokes to the finish line in Oscoda, where the winning team will arrive at approximately 11:30 a.m., Sunday, July 29.
An estimated 50,000 fans see some part of the race and a large contingent follow the complete race – known as The Toughest Spectator Sport – overnight from Grayling to Oscoda to cheer on the competitors.
Tens of thousands of fans also follow the race online and via social media, tracking the teams via the Marathon’ GPS tracking map and checking updates throughout the race on the AuSable Marathon’ Facebook page.
The AuSable Marathon Kickoff and Grayling Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours was co-sponsored by: Rolling Oak Brewing Company; Black Diamond Broadcasting / 98.5 WUPS – the flagship station of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon Radio Network; and, Gates AuSable Lodge.
For more information about the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, Presented by Consumers Energy: