Spikes Challenge canoe races cancelled for this year
Canoe racing series slated for weekend prior to AuSable River Canoe Marathon will not be held this year due to coronavirus situation
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Spike’s Challenge canoe race series has been cancelled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, event organizers announced on Monday, May 11.
The Spike’s Challenge – held annually during the weekend prior to the AuSable River Canoe Marathon – includes a C-1 race, a C-2 race, C-2 race sprints for starting position, and youth races.
The AuSable Marathon, a 120-mile non-stop race from Grayling to Oscoda held annually during the last full weekend of July, has also been cancelled for 2020, organizers announced on Wednesday, May 6.
The Spike’s Challenge C-2 race started in 1991 as a shorter daytime version of the Marathon; it was held in early July during the first few years of the event. The first two ran from Ray’s Canoe Livery (now the Old AuSable Fly Shop) to Camp 10 Bridge.
“Your chance to watch the Daylight Version of the first five hours of the famous AuSable River Canoe Marathon,” said an advertisement in the June 27, 1991 and July 4, 1991 editions of the Crawford County Avalanche.
In 1993, for the third Spike’s Challenge, organizers added the C-1 race and it was an instant success; forty-eight paddlers competed in the inaugural event, according to Avalanche coverage in 1993. Also, organizers changed the C-2 race’s finish line to Mio Bridge.
In 1994, the C-2 race added the sprints for starting position event to the weekend of canoe competition, according to Avalanche coverage.
In 1995, organizers moved the date of the Spike’s Challenge to the weekend prior to the AuSable Marathon and shortened the course to Grayling to McMasters Bridge, according to Avalanche coverage.
The C-2 race has grown from 34 teams in 1991 to 74 teams in 2019. The event’s record for most teams, 84, was established in 2016.
The duo with the most victories in the C-2 race is Andrew Triebold/Steve Lajoie with 12.
Individually, the paddlers with the most Spike’s Challenge wins are Triebold (15), Lajoie (13), Jeff Kolka (9), and Serge Corbin (6).
Kolka and Bill Torongo won the first Spike’s Challenge C-2 race in 1991.
Triebold and Lajoie won last year.