Marathon champions set new record for best finish time

Matt Meersman and Jorden Wakeley win 120-mile canoe race from Grayling to Oscoda on Sunday, finishing course in 13:54:09
Jorden Wakeley of Grayling and Matt Meersman of South Bend, Indiana added their names to the AuSable River Canoe Marathon record books on Sunday by winning the race in record time, becoming the second team in the race’s history to finish the full 120-mile Grayling to Oscoda course in fewer than 14 hours.
Wakeley and Meersman finished the 2021 Consumers Energy AuSable River Canoe Marathon in 13:54:09, according to unofficial results, four minutes better than the previous all-time record of 13:58:08 (Serge Corbin and Solomon Carrière, 1994). Wakeley and Meersman finished more than 13 minutes ahead of the second place team, Wes Dean of Grayling and Weston Willoughby of Traverse City, on Sunday. Dean and Willoughby finished in 14:07:37.
After the race, Meersman said it took a while to gain some distance on the second place duo after trailing early in the race.
“Wes and Wes, they’ve got so much speed. We really couldn’t get by them. We tried a few times and they got a feed at Townline – that’s where we got our break. They had to take a pit stop and we put the hammer down, put enough time on them that we could get our feed without them catching us,” Meersman said in a post-race interview with Larry Roberts of 98.5 WUPS. “That’s what made the difference. We can grind like nobody but sprint speed, those guys had us, and off the start we were a little bit back. We had to make up time just to get with them in the first place.”
“We gave it absolutely everything we had,” Dean said during an interview with 98.5 WUPS after the Marathon. “I don’t think we were going to beat the first place team. They were just too fast for us. We gave it everything we had and finished as good as we possibly could have.”
AuSable Marathon unofficial results show that Dean and Willoughby led by five seconds at Burton’s Landing and two seconds at Wakeley Bridge. According to checkpoint timing results, Wakeley and Meersman led at McMasters Bridge by more than two minutes and they led the rest of the way.
“We had a lead on them for about the first two hours or so and our hope was to try and keep them behind us, but when we fed they passed us. That’s when they just got away from us pretty fast. They put four minutes on us very, very fast. There’s nothing we could do about it,” Dean said. “I thought maybe they would put some time on us but I didn’t think they would put it on that fast. Those guys are incredible athletes and incredible paddlers, so I guess in that sense I’m not surprised.”
Wakeley said they knew at Mio Dam they were breaking checkpoint timing records as they went.
“I remember Bruce Barton saying you guys are on record pace and that just lit Jorden’s fire up and it was just the hammer down the rest of the way,” Meersman said.
Wakeley said winning the race and breaking the all-time record is “something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
“I’m speechless,” Wakeley said.
The 2021 AuSable River Canoe Marathon started at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 24. Grayling experienced heavy rain on Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, raising water levels on the AuSable River for potentially faster times. The weather cleared up before the start of the race.
The 1994 race in which Corbin and Carrière set the previous all-time record for best finish time also featured high water levels, according to Crawford County Avalanche coverage.
“The conditions were right. The water was high,” Carrière said in 1994 according to the August 4, 1994 edition of the Crawford County Avalanche.
Wakeley and Meersman said they felt good after getting out of the boat on Sunday morning following the 120-mile race.
“It must be the adrenaline of the win. It’s got to be,” Meersman said. “It’s a lot of hard work. No doubt about it.”
Logan Mynar of New Braunfels, Texas and Chris Issendorf of Dripping Springs, Texas finished in third place during the 2021 AuSable River Canoe Marathon with a time of 14:11:01.
Mike Davis of Homer and Shane MacDowell of Lake Placid, New York placed fourth with a time of 14:14:11.
Davis said he wasn’t expecting a record finish this year but he wasn’t shocked Wakeley and Meersman were able to do it.
“Going into the race I didn’t think that would be even a possibility, but it’s also not surprising. Jorden is one of the greatest athletes I know personally and Meersman is a fantastic paddler. He’s been a great paddler for a long time,” Davis said during an interview with 98.5 WUPS.
Pete Mead of Traverse City and Carson Burmeister of Grayling finished fifth with a time of 14:15:51. Ryan Zaveral of Mount Upton, New York and Matt Gabriel, Jr. of Grayling took sixth (14:17:33). Kyle Mynar of Spring Branch, Texas and Kyle Stonehouse of Grayling were seventh (14:24:43).
Brett Stockton of Bay City and Ryan Halstead of Grayling placed eighth. Stockton won the Marathon in 1982, 1983, 1985 through 1988, and 1990 through 1992, winning his first four Marathons with Butch Stockton and his next five with Corbin. Halstead won the Marathon in 2016 with Christophe Proulx. This year, Stockton and Halstead posted a finish time of 14:26:26.
Patrick Madden of Scotia, New York and Steve Watson of Onaway finished ninth with a time of 14:27:41.
Nick Walton of Eaton Rapids and Serge Pagé of Saint-Boniface, Quebec placed 10th with a time of 14:27:48.
Daniel Medina of Homer and Ian Rolls of Wimberley, Texas took 11th (14:33:40), Jason Hatfield of Grayling and Colin Hunter of Grayling placed 12th (14:39:07), and Michael Schlimmer of Cortland, New York and Benedict Schlimmer of Cortland, New York finished 13th (14:43:19).
The first place mixed team – Richard Lauth of Grosse Ile and Mary Schlimmer of Traverse City – took 14th place overall with a time of 14:44:24.
Austin Weiler of Roscommon and Adam Gelinas of Leominster, Massachusetts placed 15th (14:49:30), Russ Reker of Lapeer and Tad Hill of Livonia took 16th (14:59:48), Eric Batway of Grayling and Mike Bradford of Lapeer finished 17th (15:00:42), and Douglas Dalman of Coopersville and Brad Wilson of Rockford were 18th (15:16:20).
The second place mixed team – Jeff Kolka of Grayling and Naomi Kolka of Grayling – finished 19th overall with a time of (15:19:29). J. Kolka won the Marathon with Corbin in 1996 through 2003 and once more in 2005 for a total of nine championships.
The first place women’s division duo this year – Kaitlin Mynar of San Marcos, Texas and Virginia Condie of Martindale, Texas – posted a time of 15:56:08 and placed 37th overall. 
There were six women’s division teams this year. One of them featured Lynne Witte of Cheboygan, who tied the AuSable River Canoe Marathon’s all-time record for starts (41) by competing in this year’s Marathon. The record of 41 AuSable Marathon starts was first established by Al Widing Sr. This year, Witte – with Maria Schilling of Minneapolis, Minnesota – finished 64th with a time of 17:06:53.
Michael Garon of Washington Township also made history this year by adding to his streak of consecutive finishes. Garon placed 52nd this year with Zach Cheney of Livonia, extending his streak to 22 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. 
Eighty-three teams started the 2021 AuSable River Canoe Marathon and 73 of them reached the finish line in the required 19 hours. Listed reasons for not finishing this year’s race included illness, injury, fatigue, and failure to reach timing checkpoints.
Complete results of the 2021 AuSable River Canoe Marathon, including split times, are available online at
AuSable River Canoe Marathon Unofficial Results • Grayling to Oscoda • Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25, 2021
Place Canoe# Paddler Paddler Finish Time
01 63 Jorden Wakeley Matt Meersman 13:54:09
02 99 Wesley Dean Weston Willoughby 14:07:37
03 97 Chris Issendorf Logan Mynar 14:11:01
04 55 Mike Davis Shane MacDowell 14:14:11
05 08 Pete Mead Carson Burmeister 14:15:51
06 52 Ryan Zaveral Matt Gabriel, Jr. 14:17:33
07 07 Kyle Mynar Kyle Stonehouse 14:24:43
08 02 Brett Stockton Ryan Halstead 14:26:26
09 66 Patrick Madden Steve Watson 14:27:41
10 13 Nick Walton Serge Pagé 14:27:48
11 91 Daniel Medina Ian Rolls 14:33:40
12 22 Jason Hatfield Colin Hunter 14:39:07
13 78 Michael Schlimmer Benedict Schlimmer 14:43:19
14 01 Richard Lauth Mary Schlimmer 14:44:24
15 90 Austin Weiler Adam Gelinas 14:49:30
16 20 Russ Reker Tad Hill 14:59:48
17 30 Eric Batway Mike Bradford 15:00:42
18 18 Douglas Dalman Brad Wilson 15:16:20
19 16 Jeff Kolka Naomi Kolka 15:19:29
20 03 Mo Harwood, Jr. Erich Podjaske 15:24:56
21 80 Kevin Boss Andy Hall 15:27:05
22 14 David Teddy Bill Torongo 15:29:02
23 46 Paul Olney Mike Fries 15:29:55
24 39 Brandon Stafford Andrew Condie 15:30:02
25 74 Seth Miller Stephen Miller 15:32:34
26 57 Dan Mecklenburg Jon Webb 15:34:17
27 10 Joe Leusby Rob Shadley 15:39:34
28 35 Ryan Childs Zachary Childs 15:40:42
29 92 Brian Jones Gwen Hills 15:41:07
30 81 Greg Zophy Jeremiah Menk 15:42:37
31 45 Dan Goltz Judson Steinback 15:44:26
32 31 Fred Kueffer Kira Stolen 15:47:00
33 70 Benjamin Tarbutton David Smith 15:49:44
34 40 Fred Mills Tim McClure 15:52:00
35 43 Mike Hartman Sean Casey 15:54:43
36 79 Doug Moggo Josh Moggo 15:55:53
37 19 Kaitlin Mynar Virginia Condie 15:56:08
38 86 Chris Broderson Emily Broderson 15:57:49
39 23 Kevin Olson Sylvie Nadeau 15:59:55
40 87 Nathan Tart Shannon Issendorf 16:03:48
41 21 Brandon Gerardy Stephen Leppard 16:08:16
42 98 Levi Korneli Garrett Garner 16:10:50
43 72 Lydia Huelskamp Mollie Binion 16:13:51
44 67 Roy Sowersby Bruce Daman 16:15:23
45 96 Cecili Bugge Holly Orr 16:17:55
46 11 Robert Smith William Fowler 16:20:27
47 28 Alan Putnam Aaron Putnam 16:25:00
48 06 Mike Packard Jake Crotser 16:25:29
49 53 Christopher Krey Sean Brabant 16:27:15
50 68 Rusty McLain Lee Duncan 16:31:24
51 05 Ted Kenyon Pam Fitzgerald 16:32:38
52 36 Zach Cheney Michael Garon 16:35:48
53 56 Nick Lyesiuk Peter Heed 16:36:31
54 73 Wade Binion Samantha Binion 16:37:15
55 71 Michael Cade Chris Champion 16:38:05
56 15 Rodney Elliott Rebecca Sutter 16:38:46
57 47 Jeff DeFeo Katie Peck 16:39:15
58 84 Nate Winkler Jaya Elleson 16:42:24
59 58 Michael Davis Io Harberts 16:43:49
60 04 Josh Kellogg Jeremy Kellogg 16:44:37
61 50 Chris Ecker Bill Mahaffy, Jr. 16:46:58
62 42 David Hawkins Bryan Bearss 16:48:45
63 61 Chuck Hewitt Jenna Briggs 17:00:00
64 54 Maria Schilling Lynne Witte 17:06:53
65 17 L.J. Bourgeois Nicole Rice-Owens 17:07:28
66 85 Gary Aprea Gloria Wesley 17:08:27
67 76 Keith Wojahn Jerry Killingbeck 17:13:25
68 59 Mark Koenig Ron Koenig 17:23:40
69 33 Helen-Holly Crouch Debbie Brax 17:27:36
70 12 Natalie Kellogg Mike Kellogg 17:40:56
71 60 Jim Amell Roger Henry 18:04:47
72 94 Travis VanDeCasteele Kyle Schmidt 18:11:24
73 48 Mickey Kimsel Bryce Martin 18:17:57
74 51 William Dean Lewie Madill DNF
75 69 Chris Scully Ed Butler DNF
76 77 Josh Harvey River Robertson DNF
77 75 Bernie Tuszynski David Timmerman DNF
78 88 Eric Dittenber Yves Cartier DNF
79 24 Kristi Treston Katie Treston DNF
80 27 Gary McLain Dwight Walker DNF
81 62 Jacob Cramer Matthew Rudy DNF
82 41 James Holzberger Brian Whaley DNF
83 26 Andrew Weeks Paddi Thornburg DNF
Unofficial results courtesy of

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