Spikes Challenge C-1 race from Grayling to Burtons Landing slated for Saturday, July 22
Tue, 07/18/2023 - 12:19pm caleb
Organizers are expecting another large field – possibly a new record – for this year’s event
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Spike’s Challenge C-1 race organizers are expecting another large field for this year’s event.
“It’s going to be big again,” said Cheryl Lucey, one of the Spike’s Challenge organizers.
Last year, the Spike’s Challenge C-1 race had a record field with 79 competitors (67 men, 10 women, and two youth). The previous mark of 68 was established in 2018. The 2021 race had 67 paddlers.
With registration numbers at record levels for the 2023 AuSable River Canoe Marathon – 108 teams were signed up as of Wednesday, July 12, according to the event’s official website – and a possible record field for the 2023 Spike’s Challenge C-2 race, will the C-1 race also feature record participation?
“I think so. If not, it’s going to be close,” Lucey said.
Lucey said on Wednesday, July 12, that 22 paddlers were registered for the 2023 Spike’s Challenge C-1 race, more than normal that many days prior to the event.
“We’ve got a good field so far for the C-1,” Lucey said. “Twenty-two right now. We’ve never had 22 registered this early.”
Lucey said the Spike’s Challenge C-1 race offers the same prize payouts for the top placements in both the men’s and women’s divisions, which is a “big draw, especially for the women.”
Overall, this year’s C-1 race is offering more than $1,600 in prize money, an increase from last year, according to organizers.
Paddlers and organizers cite the distance, the competition, and the course as reasons for the race’s popularity.
Lucey said the event draws a lot of AuSable River Canoe Marathon competitors (including many from Texas who spend part of the summer in northern Michigan), some of the Marathon support crew members, and local paddlers.
“We get a lot of people that just do the Spike’s race,” Lucey said. “The feed teams come up; it’s a race they can do.”
Spike’s Challenge weekend – July 22 and 23 this year – features both the C-1 race and a C-2 event.
Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails, a Grayling restaurant and tavern, started the Spike’s Challenge C-2 race in 1991 as a shorter daytime version of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. The first AuSable Marathon – a 120-mile race from Grayling to Oscoda – was conducted in 1947, and this year will be the event’s 75th race.
Spike’s Challenge organizers added the C-1 race in 1993, creating a full weekend of canoe racing with events on both Saturday and Sunday.
The 2023 Spike’s Challenge C-1 event will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 22. The race runs from Grayling – the starting line is located at Joe Wakeley’s house next to Borchers AuSable Canoeing – to Burton’s Landing. Paddlers typically finish the course in 40 to 80 minutes.
The 2023 Spike’s Challenge C-2 sprints for starting position are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 22. The sprints start and end at the city park near the pedestrian bridge. The C-2 race features a running start with teams carrying their canoes to the river, and starting positions for the run are determined by the sprint competition.
The 2023 C-2 race starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 23, at the Old AuSable Fly Shop in Grayling. It ends at McMasters Bridge between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Registration forms are available online for the Spike’s Challenge C-2 and C-1 races. Go to the AuSable River Canoe Marathon website at www.ausablecanoemarathon.org, use the “Paddlers” option near the top of the page to select “Associated Events,” scroll down to click the “Spike’s Challenge” link, and then scroll down to the blue “C-2 Entry Form” and “C-1 Entry Form” links.