Paddlers from Quebec battle for first place during a sprint to the finish on Sunday during 2017 AuSable Marathon

It happened again. For the second consecutive year, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon – an annual 120-mile non-stop race from Grayling to Oscoda held on Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30 – featured a sprint to the finish line, with only one second separating the first and second place teams. For the second consecutive year, Christophe Proulx was in one of the two canoes sprinting to the finish line, and for the second consecutive time, Proulx – paddling with Samuel Frigon this year – won the race.
Proulx and Frigon, both of Quebec, battled another Canadian duo – a team that also had a previous AuSable Marathon champion – for the 2017 title. 
Steve Lajoie and Guillaume Blais, both of Quebec, led early in the race. (Lajoie had nine AuSable Marathon championships going into 2017.) Lajoie and Blais were ahead of Proulx and Frigon by approximately five minutes at McMasters Bridge, seven minutes at Camp 10, and four minutes at 4001 Bridge. Proulx and Frigon cut it to a one-minute lead for Lajoie and Blais at Alcona Dam, approximately eight and a half hours into the race.
According to an AuSable Marathon timing chart for this year’s race, the two teams were even at Loud Dam, close to even at Five Channels, and even at both the Cooke Dam and Foote Dam portages.
It came down to a sprint to the finish line (for only the third time in the 70-year history of the AuSable Marathon), and Proulx and Frigon were able to complete the comeback and edge Lajoie and Blais by one second.
Proulx and Frigon finished in 14:18:45 and Lajoie and Blais had a final time of 14:18:46, according to unofficial results posted on Sunday.
Frigon is a first-time AuSable Marathon champion, becoming the 46th person to ever win the race. Proulx is now a two-time AuSable River Canoe Marathon winner. This year was Frigon’s fourth Marathon and Proulx’s fifth.
“It was an awesome race,” Proulx said.
In an interview at the finish line, Proulx said they had to overcome some adversity early in the race, but they were able to battle back. How?
“Just go,” Proulx said. “We just hammered it down. It was like it was now or never.”
Mike Davis and Weston Willoughby, both of Homer, finished in third place with a time of 14:26:01.
The fourth place team – Andrew Triebold of Grayling and Mary Schlimmer of New York – broke a 29-year-old record for best mixed division time in the AuSable Marathon. The previous record was established by Lynne Witte and Jim Myers in 1988 (15:05:26). The time for Triebold and Schlimmer this year was 14:37:45.
Nick Walton of Eaton Rapids and Matt Meersman of Indiana finished fifth with a time of 14:43:12.
Other top 10 teams this year included: 6th, Trevor Lefever and Matt Rudnitsky, both of New York, 14:50:14; 7th, Michael Schlimmer and Joseph Schlimmer, both of New York, 14:52:30; 8th, Tom Pellerin  and Jim Pellerin, both of Quebec, 14:55:54; 9th, Shane MacDowell of Marquette and Pete Mead of Traverse City, 14:56:53; 10th, Richard Lauth of Gross Ile and Kyle Mynar of Texas, 14:56:54.
Patrick Madden of New York and Adam Gelinas of Massachusetts took 11th (15:04:17) and Ryan Zaveral and Phillip Millspaugh, both of New York, finished 12th (15:10:21). Daniel Medina and Austin Weiler, both of Roscommon, were 13th at 15:13:15. Tim Sheldon and Colin Hunter, both of Grayling, placed 14th (15:15:39) and Ted Smutek of Luzerne and Matt Gabriel, Jr. of Grayling finished 15th (15:17:04).
The 16th place team – Rebecca Davis of Homer and Edith MacHattie of Saskatchewan – won the women’s division and set a new record. The time for Davis and MacHattie this year – 15:17:39 – broke the previous mark for best finish time by an all-women team, a record established by Connie Cannon and Carrie Trudgeon in 1994 (15:26:14).
Eighty teams started the 2017 AuSable River Canoe Marathon and 73 reached the finish line. This year’s finish rate of 91 percent was higher than the recent average. 
In 2000 through 2017, 18 AuSable Marathons, 1,331 teams started the race and 1,100 finished (83 percent). The highest finish percentage during that span was 91 percent (in both 2017 and 2006) and the lowest was 71 percent in 2001.
Overall numbers were down a little bit from last year’s record field. The 2016 AuSable Marathon featured 95 canoes – one more than the previous record of 94 in 2010. The race had 90 canoes in both 2009 and 2011. 
The AuSable River Canoe Marathon is the second leg of the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing. The first leg is the General Clinton Canoe Regatta, a one-day 70-mile race conducted on the Susquehanna River in New York on Memorial Day. The third leg is la Classique de Canots de la Mauricie, a three-day three-stage race held on the St. Maurice River in Quebec on Labor Day weekend.
 
2017 AuSable River Canoe Marathon | Unofficial Results
Place Canoe# Name Name Time
1 02 Christophe Proulx • Samuel Frigon 14:18:45
2 04 Steve LaJoie • Guillaume Blais 14:18:46
3 55 Mike Davis • Weston Willoughby 14:26:01
4 01 Andrew Triebold • Mary Schlimmer 14:37:45
5 13 Nick Walton • Matt Meersman 14:43:12
6 05 Trevor Lefever • Matt Rudnitsky 14:50:14
7 78 Michael Schlimmer • Joseph Schlimmer 14:52:30
8 90 Tom Pellerin • Jim Pellerin 14:55:54
9 08 Shane MacDowell • Pete Mead 14:56:53
10 89 Richard Lauth • Kyle Mynar 14:56:54
11 17 Patrick Madden • Adam Gelinas 15:04:17
12 62 Ryan Zaveral • Philip Millspaugh 15:10:21
13 07 Daniel Medina • Austin Weiler 15:13:15
14 22 Tim Sheldon • Colin Hunter 15:15:39
15 94 Ted Smutek • Matt Gabriel, Jr. 15:17:04
16 37 Rebecca Davis • Edith MacHattie 15:17:39
17 68 Wesley Dean • Jason Hatfield 15:20:44
18 14 Trevor Robinson • Bill Torongo 15:25:26
19 64 Simon Dessureault • Sarah Lessard 15:39:15
20 76 Tim Chapple • Vincent Bellemare 15:42:14
21 30 Chris Issendorf • Andrew Condie 15:42:59
22 72 Ray Trudgeon • Mandy Trudgeon 15:44:13
23 57 Jon Webb • Gwen Hills 15:47:26
24 43 Wade Binion • Hener Cruz 15:48:00
25 93 Sean Brabant • Kyle Stonehouse 15:50:17
26 74 Seth Miller • Stephen Miller 15:51:08
27 71 Devin Arenz • Joe Manns 15:55:01
28 44 Flash Marsh • Carson Burmeister 15:58:20
29 48 Jérémie Fortin • Anthony Massicotte 16:02:11
30 99 Antoine Rouleau • Rosalie Frigon 16:11:08
31 11 Rick Joy • Phil Weiler 16:13:20
32 15 Joel Truitt • Eric Whicker 16:15:53
33 73 Mike Fries • Kevin Olson 16:17:22
34 29 Nate Winkler • Rodney Matthews 16:17:51
35 31 Fred Kueffer • Kira Stolen 16:20:48
36 98 Benedict Schlimmer • Miranda Robinson 16:22:06
37 85 Gary Aprea • Gloria Wesley 16:22:34
38 18 Tommy Cramer • Dylan Kirk 16:23:09
39 24 Kristi Treston • Katie Treston 16:25:59
40 25 Mike Elenbaas • Mike Hale 16:26:40
41 36 Joel Mack • Michael Garon 16:27:24
42 40 Fred Mills • Rodger Moak 16:29:14
43 51 Christian Marchand • Sylvain Marchand 16:32:00
44 79 Doug Moggo • Bruce Daman 16:44:24
45 80 Luc Mercier • René Joly 16:46:00
46 96 Nathan Tate • Adam Fujita 16:49:17
47 67 Roy Sowersby • Jim Cerva 16:55:11
48 52 Paul Olney • JoAnn Olney 16:59:17
49 75 Keith Wojahn • Jerry Killingbeck 17:11:16
50 10 Maria Schilling • Io Harberts 17:11:40
51 83 Tom Ackemyer • Ray Bauer 17:15:20
52 60 Rebecca Sutter • Roger Henry 17:15:28
53 28 David Sennett • Ashley Cary 17:16:23
54 50 Bill Mahaffy, Jr. • Chris Hewitt 17:17:04
55 34 Ed Lipinski • Scott Doederlein 17:18:15
56 87 Nicole Owens • Rodney Elliott 17:24:35
57 61 Chuck Hewitt • Erin Thompson 17:28:13
58 23 Kevin Murphy • Darin Nicholas 17:29:39
59 27 Ted Cramer • Dwight Walker 17:37:40
60 81 Sinthang Has • Scott Carroll 17:39:05
61 12 Josh Kellogg • Mike Kellogg 17:44:08
62 70 Chris Gallagher • Chris Ecker 17:45:07
63 88 Shawn Spallinger • Chase Spallinger 17:48:23
64 59 Fritz Hansen • Jaya Elleson 17:51:35
65 54 Sylvie Nadeau • Lynne Witte 18:00:55
66 47 Jeff DeFeo • Katie Schaaf 18:09:18
67 26 Andrew Weeks • Paddi Thornburg 18:10:14
68 32 Judi Clark • Rod Clark 18:16:09
69 49 Lauren Fry • Mark Rowe 18:16:13
70 19 Peggy English • Ellen Thompson 18:19:13
71 58 Greg Zophy • Lauren Chapple 18:20:39
72 86 Jeffrey Matthews • Jordan Jamison 18:30:12
73 45 Daniel Sherman • Bradley Thompson 18:48:02
74 84 David Armstrong • Karen Febey DNF
75 42 Jon Thompson • Bryan Bearss DNF
76 35 Zachary Childs • Ryan Childs DNF
77 56 Jim Braig • Kevin Stalheim DNF
78 38 David Hallison • Jason Holton DNF
79 69 Chris Scully • Ed Butler DNF
80 41 Chris Ragsdale • Matthew McDougall-Smith DNF
 
Results courtesy of www.ausablecanoemarathon.org

 

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