Jeff Caverly Photography

Au Sable River Canoe Marathon

The Au Sable River Canoe Marathon is a challenging race for both participants and spectators. The racers train and prepare for months. The canoes and paddles are hi-tech lightweight carbon fiber. Teams have helpers called 'feeders' that enter the river to pass food and drinks to the racers as they paddle by at speed. All this in the dark, in the middle of the night.

Since 1947, paddlers have started the race in the evening in Grayling. The 120 mile course takes the racers over 6 dams and all through the night, finishing mid-day the next day. Many race paddlers are local, and the race has seen participants from 35 states, 6 provinces, and 6 different countries.

Spectators have a challenge as well. They definitely want to see the unique start in downtown Grayling. The race starts at 9:00PM Saturday night, on the last weekend fully in July. The carbon fiber canoes are lined up along a downtown street. When the race starts the paddlers carry their canoes and run several hundred yards downtown. It's an exciting action-packed few minutes as dozens and dozens of teams enter the water simultaneously, with large crowds cheering.

Spectators and feeder crews follow the race toward Oscoda through the night. Dawn Sunday morning finds the racers approaching the last dams, and the race finishes Sunday mid-day through the afternoon in Oscoda.

The Au Sable River Canoe Marathon is the highlight of a series of events happening throughout the week before.  More details at our Calendar of Events.

See the main website for the race at