AuSable wraps up sprints, defending champs start in front

GRAYLING – The sprints are wrapped up at the AuSable River Canoe Marathon.  When the race starts Saturday night, the 6-time defending champion duo of Andy Treibold and Steve Lajoie will be sitting in the pole position on the front row.

We asked around to see what it will take to unseat the champs and some of the answers we got were pretty interesting.

AuSable River Canoe Marathon Spokesman Phil Weiler:

“I think it’s going to take a group of canoes, riding with each other.  And when they ride, they take turns pulling.  And if they take turns pulling, and can conserve energy, and keep them in sight when the sun comes up, I think you can put pressure on them.”

Nick Walton (who is starting in 4th place with partner Christophe Proulx):

“They’re darn good.  They’re hard to beat, I mean, they’ve been together for quite a few years, and they’re both extremely good.  So, it would almost have to take maybe one of them to get sick or something to happen to their boat for someone to beat them, but we’re gonna give it a shot.”

Matt Strieb (starting in the 2nd row with Weston Willoughby):

“Can somebody put a hole in their boat (laughing).”

Weston Willoughby: “A lot of luck (laughing).”

Bill Torongo (starting 3rd with partner Samuel Frigon):

“Misfortune on their part. We paddled a little bit with them last night.  It was day time, well not day time, but not race time, but race pace, and we’re going hard and we’re just falling off of the back.  And I’m like, ‘we’re not even racing.’  They’re just good.  They’re just very very good, both of them.”

Ryan Halstead (starting 2nd with partner Matthew St. Peirre):

“Personally, me I think we want them to have a good race, because I don’t want to beat anybody when they have a bad race, you know.  To knock ’em off I think we just gotta be smart, and we know we have the speed, but we just need to go the distance.”

Andy Treibold is looking for his 8th straight victory at the race which would tie legend Serge Corbin.  It would also be Treibold’s 9th total win which is halfway to Corbin’s total of 18.

The race starts Saturday at 9pm on the streets of downtown Grayling.  We’ll have video from the start on Saturday’s 9&10 News at 11.  We’ll also have the finish covered for you on Sunday’s 9&10 News at 6.