The Klondike Challenge canoe race returns on Saturday | News

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OSCODA — As canoe racing fans celebrated the return of the Curley Memorial and the AuSable River Canoe Marathon last year, one event was noticeably missing. There is some good news to report, however, as the Klondike Challenge, which was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, makes its highly anticipated return on Saturday.

“It’s quite exciting to be able to start the season off well after a two-year hiatus,” said event organizer Ryan Matthews. “I still love the Klondike because it’s the first time everyone is together after a long winter off season. This really creates excitement for the rest of the year.

The event starts at 1 p.m. for C-1 and C-2 runners, and the course is approximately 4.25 miles long. Paddlers start near the mouth of Van Etten Creek. Paddlers travel 2.75 miles upstream and 1.5 miles downstream, to the finish line near Huntington Bank on F-41. The race ends in about 45 minutes.

“The course will be the same, there really won’t be too many drastic changes,” Matthews said. “The committee is very enthusiastic and we were able to find a new sponsor for the event, Heritage House Realty. It has been a big help with continued support from AuSable Hardware, Griff and Sons and our other supporters.

Kyle Stonehouse and Wes Dean won the 2019 race in 38:01. Danny Medina won the C1 race with a time of 42:50.

“I asked around, saw who might be coming and it looks like there might be a modest turnout, hopefully that’s good enough,” Matthews said. “It is always difficult to judge these things. It largely depends on the weather.

The Klondike Challenge will also consist of a 5 and 10 km road race on Sunday. This part of the event was canceled in 2020, but took place in 2021.

This race also starts at 1 p.m. This will be a loop trail along Perimeter Rd., near the Lake Van Etten State Forest Campground.

“I’m super excited, the last two years weren’t the same without the Klondike,” Matthews said.

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