Canadian team wins 2022 AuSable Marathon
Tue, 08/02/2022 - 8:54pm caleb
Steve Lajoie and Guillaume Blais finish first on Sunday, edging Wesley Dean and Ryan Halstead by two minutes following 120-mile race from Grayling to Oscoda
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Steve Lajoie of Mirabel, Quebec – a paddler with 11 AuSable River Canoe Marathon championships going into this year’s race – and Guillaume Blais of Saint-Boniface, Quebec, a competitor with three 2nd place Marathon finishes going into 2022, edged Wesley Dean of Traverse City and Ryan Halstead of Grayling by approximately two minutes on Sunday to win this year’s 120-mile race from Grayling to Oscoda.
The Canadian team of Lajoie and Blais posted an unofficial finish time of 14:36:17 during the 2022 Consumers Energy AuSable River Canoe Marathon, according to the Marathon’s website. For Lajoie, it was his 12th championship in the race; he won the Marathon with Andrew Triebold in 2004, 2008 through 2015, 2018, and 2019. Blais finished 2nd in 2019 with Samuel Frigon and he placed 2nd in 2017 (with Lajoie) to Christophe Proulx and Frigon by one second. Blais and Mathieu Pellerin took 2nd place to Triebold and Lajoie in 2015. Lajoie, with the win on Sunday, tied Triebold for the second most AuSable Marathon championships (12) in the history of the event. (Serge Corbin holds the record for most victories in the race with 18, according to AuSable Marathon archives.)
During a post-race interview with Larry Roberts of 98.5 WUPS, Lajoie talked about how close of a race it was between three boats for a while and then two boats later in the Marathon as Lajoie/Blais and Dean/Halstead fought for 1st place down the stretch.
“It was a fun night. Tough night,” Lajoie said. “But I’m glad it’s over now.”
“Of course we didn’t want to get into a final sprint with those guys. You know what happened in ‘17 right?” Lajoie said. “They’re young, fast guys. We’re not getting any younger.”
“We didn’t want to take that chance so we figured out we’ll do whatever it takes to pull away,” Lajoie said.
Lajoie said he was happy that Blais was able to get his first AuSable River Canoe Marathon victory.
“I’m glad Guillaume finally got it,” Lajoie said. “Really glad. Guillaume is a good guy.”
Dean and Halstead posted an unofficial finish time of 14:38:30 and took 2nd place. Dean also finished 2nd last year (with Weston Willoughby). For Halstead, Sunday was his fourth second place finish; he took 2nd in 2006 (with Rodney Halstead), 2011 (with Rodney Halstead), and 2012 (with Josh Sheldon). Halstead won the Marathon in 2016 with Proulx.
AuSable Marathon timing information posted on the event’s official website shows that Lajoie and Blais led at Burton’s Landing and Stephan Bridge. Jorden Wakeley of Grayling and Matt Meersman of South Bend, Indiana – last year’s AuSable River Canoe Marathon champions – led at Wakeley Bridge. Lajoie and Blais led Wakeley and Meersman at the fourth and fifth timing locations – McMasters Bridge and Parmalee Bridge – by a few seconds. Wakeley and Meersman had a small lead at Camp Ten Bridge.
At the seventh timing location, Mio Dam, it was Dean and Halstead who were in the lead. They said it was probably “a surprise to a lot of people just based on how things were going early in the race.”
“We were kind of out of rhythm early in the race. At Parmalee we really got it together, started making a move to get up there. We were running good lines and everything like that. We ended up catching Steve Lajoie, Guillaume Blais and Jorden Wakeley and Matt Meersman I would say probably about five minutes before Mio Dam right out there in the flat water,” Halstead said during an interview with Roberts of 98.5 WUPS after the race.
Dean and Halstead led at McKinley Bridge, 4001 Bridge, Alcona Dam, Loud Dam, Five Channels Dam, and Cooke Dam, but Lajoie and Blais pulled ahead by Foote Dam (the 14th of 15 timing locations), according to unofficial Marathon results.
Dean and Halstead also mentioned the 2017 finish of the Marathon when Lajoie and Blais lost by one second after a sprint to the finish line.
“I knew they weren’t going to let it come down to that again,” they said.
Wakeley and Matt Meersman finished 3rd with a time of 14:48:33.
Mike Davis of Homer and Ryan Zaveral of Unadilla, New York took 4th place (14:57:06).
Logan Mynar of San Antonio, Texas and Kyle Mynar of Spring Branch, Texas placed 5th (15:01:17).
Daniel Medina of Homer and Colin Hunter of Grayling were the 6th team to finish; they posted a time of 15:07:46.
Chris Issendorf of New Braunfels, Texas and Brett Stockton of Bay City finished 7th (15:14:26).
Carson Burmeister of Grayling and Pete Mead of Traverse City took 8th place with a time of 15:16:34.
Patrick Madden of Scotia, New York and Adam Gelinas of Leominster, Massachusetts took 9th (15:24:24).
The final top 10 team – Richard Lauth of Grosse Ile and Matt Gabriel, Jr. of Grayling – finished in 15:31:32.
The first place mixed team – Tad Hill of Livonia and Mary Schlimmer-Willoughby of Traverse City – took 15th place overall with a time of 15:49:37.
The first place women’s division duo this year – Sarah Lessard of Les Cèdres, Quebec and Edith MacHattie of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – posted a time of 16:23:10 and placed 23rd overall.
Lynne Witte of Cheboygan, who tied the AuSable River Canoe Marathon’s all-time record for starts (41) by competing in last year’s Marathon, moved into the all-time lead in the category after beginning this year’s race on Saturday night. Lynne Witte finished 75th on Sunday with Andrew Weeks. It was her 40th finish, adding to the record she already owned going into this year’s Marathon.
Michael Garon of Washington Township added to his streak of consecutive finishes in 2022. Garon placed 52nd this year with Zach Cheney, extending his streak to 23 straight finishes. The next longest streaks in the event’s history are owned by Witte (18, 1995 through 2012) and Nate Winkler (18, 2003 through 2021), according to Marathon archives.
This year’s Marathon had a record number of first-timers with 51. The event also had a record number of “rookie division” teams (both paddlers competing in the Marathon for the first time) with 17. The previous record for most first-timers – not including the first Marathon in 1947 – was 44 in 2016. The previous record for most “rookie division” duos was 12 (2008), according to Marathon archives.
Ninety-three teams started the 2022 AuSable River Canoe Marathon and 75 of them – 81 percent – reached the finish line in the required 19 hours. Listed reasons for not finishing this year’s race included illness, injury, fatigue, equipment damage, and failure to fulfill timing requirements.
For a while, it looked like this year’s AuSable Marathon might feature the largest field in the history of the event, but a large number of teams that withdrew – some of which were related to COVID-19, according to race officials – reduced the number of duos below record levels. Late last week, the Marathon’s entry list showed 103 registered teams minus eight withdrawals for a total of 95 duos. Two more teams withdrew, leaving the starting field for the 2022 AuSable River Canoe Marathon at 93, two fewer than the all-time record of 95 (established in 2016). The 2010 Marathon featured 94 teams, so this year’s race ended up having the third largest field in its history.
Complete results of the 2022 Consumers Energy AuSable River Canoe Marathon, including split times, are available online at www.ausablecanoemarathon.org.
AuSable River Canoe Marathon Unofficial Results • Grayling to Oscoda • Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, 2022
Place Canoe# Paddler Paddler Finish Time
01 98 Steve Lajoie Guillaume Blais 14:36:17
2 02 Wesley Dean Ryan Halstead 14:38:30
3 63 Jorden Wakeley Matt Meersman 14:48:33
4 55 Mike Davis Ryan Zaveral 14:57:06
5 97 Logan Mynar Kyle Mynar 15:01:17
6 22 Daniel Medina Colin Hunter 15:07:46
7 69 Chris Issendorf Brett Stockton 15:14:26
8 08 Carson Burmeister Pete Mead 15:16:34
9 00 Patrick Madden Adam Gelinas 15:24:24
10 52 Richard Lauth Matt Gabriel, Jr. 15:31:32
11 90 Travis Mecklenburg* Austin Weiler 15:35:08
12 99 Weston Willoughby Dane Trudgeon* 15:43:23
13 91 Louis-Simon Pruneau Christian Charette* 15:44:17
14 13 Nick Walton Clay Wyatt 15:47:59
15 12 Tad Hill Mary Willoughby 15:49:37
16 68 Jason Hatfield Brad Wilson 15:51:03
17 57 Dan Mecklenburg Jon Webb 15:59:05
18 25 Luc Mercier Anthony Massicotte 16:00:03
19 43 Mike "Buzzy" Hartman Mike Hale 16:08:47
20 94 Gaston Jones* Wade Binion 16:11:57
21 81 Craig Stolen Jeremiah Menk 16:13:06
22 78 Michael Schlimmer Eve Chamberland* 16:21:25
23 64 Sarah Lessard Edith MacHattie 16:23:10
24 80 Paul Olney Andy Hall 16:24:01
25 16 Dodd Yeager* Shannon Issendorf 16:25:06
26 20 David Teddy Flash Marsh 16:26:29
27 70 Benjamin Tarbutton David Smith 16:27:24
28 45 Kyle Issendorf* Andrew Condie 16:27:55
29 83 Dave Flageole* Renaud Flageole* 16:33:51
30 53 Sean Brabant Jason Sharpe 16:34:53
31 37 Roxanne Barton Rebecca Davis 16:41:21
32 39 David Hawkins Sean Casey 16:46:19
33 14 Douglas Dalman Bill Torongo 16:49:02
34 75 Thierry Dufour* Gérémy Michaud* 16:49:39
35 92 Lydia Huelskamp Kaitlin Mynar 16:50:51
36 33 Kyle Charters* Caleb Watson* 16:52:51
37 67 Joseph Allison* Steve Bachorik* 16:54:54
38 71 Dale Gust* Doug Gillin 16:56:34
39 31 Louis Lefèbvre* Shirley Trudel* 16:58:33
40 61 Ryan Childs Chuck Hewitt 17:01:26
41 24 Kristi Treston Katie Treston 17:01:55
42 96 Philip Millspaugh Joseph Schlimmer 17:03:02
43 11 Robert Smith William Fowler 17:09:21
44 05 Bruce Barton Cecili Bugge 17:14:40
45 32 L.J. Bourgeois Carrie Montgomery 17:17:49
46 28 Connor Landick Steve Landick 17:22:16
47 56 Matt King* Peter Heed 17:24:31
48 44 Scott Doederlein Chris Ecker 17:25:38
49 59 Mark Koenig Ron Koenig 17:28:44
50 93 Greg Zophy Maria Schilling 17:30:01
51 79 Roy Sowersby Aaron Putnam 17:33:22
52 36 Zach Cheney Michael Garon 17:37:38
53 15 Joe Roman* Alan Putnam 17:39:51
54 86 Jon Wieringa* Garrett Ziegler* 17:43:51
55 26 Matt McDonald Nick McDonald 17:51:11
56 21 Brandon Gerardy Stephen Leppard 17:55:00
57 51 Phil Armstrong Pam Fitzgerald 17:56:09
58 40 Rodney Elliott Fred Mills 17:57:53
59 19 Doug Heady Sean Newmister* 17:58:41
60 65 Evan Mahon* Nate Greeley* 18:01:08
61 50 Bill Mahaffy, Jr. Diana Jurewicz* 18:01:13
62 88 Thina Pham* Caroline Fortin* 18:03:14
63 73 Jeff Pedersen* Ed Wagner 18:08:18
64 27 Ray Bauer Dwight Walker 18:10:58
65 18 Ted Lind* Chris Hewitt 18:14:54
66 34 Noah VanderVeen* Josie VanderVeen* 18:22:27
67 48 Kevin Berl Helen-Holly Crouch 18:28:19
68 06 Richard Holsbeke* Ursula Latreille* 18:32:40
69 47 Jeff DeFeo Jo Hamlin 18:36:10
70 62 Spencer Oppermann* Brennan Berkshire* 18:37:22
71 01 Joey Kimsel Mickey Kimsel 18:38:55
72 72 Andrew Lane* Ray Lane 18:40:01
73 17 Bryce Martin Nicole Rice-Owens 18:43:58
74 42 David Sennett Tim Henning* 18:53:53
75 54 Andrew Weeks Lynne Witte 18:54:47
DNF 29 Kelly Mammel* Jay Mammel* DQ
DNF 38 Mandee Mlcek David Hallison Drop
DNF 41 Gabriel Savard-Gaumond* Carlos Martinez* Drop
DNF 30 Natalie Kellogg Mike Kellogg Drop
DNF 82 Brian Barkholz Orville Short, Jr. Drop
DNF 10 Joe Leusby Rob Shadley Drop
DNF 89 Josh Ball* Brian Borchers Drop
DNF 35 Russ Reker Zachary Childs Drop
DNF 76 Keith Wojahn Jerry Killingbeck Drop
DNF 60 Jim Amell Roger Henry Drop
DNF 04 Jenna Cooke* Trevor Cooke* DQ
DNF 77 Eric Render* Kyler Bradley* DQ
DNF 58 Karen Pleasant Io Harberts DQ
DNF 85 Cody Sapp* Devin Sapp* DQ
DNF 74 Seth Miller Bryan Bearss Drop
DNF 07 Christophe Proulx Kyle Stonehouse Drop
DNF 95 Steve Carroll* Gerold Chouquer* DQ
DNF 03 Jake Crotser Al Shaver, Jr. Drop
* Denotes paddler competing in the AuSable River Canoe Marathon for the first time
Unofficial results courtesy of www.ausablecanoemarathon.org