Third annual Main Street Paddle Battle features 22 competitors
Carlie Wilson | Staff Writer
Twenty-two competitors – eight women and 14 men – from across Grayling came to the AuSable River Festival’s Main Stage on Michigan Avenue to compete in the Grayling Main Street’s “Paddle Battle” on Friday, July 27.
During the Paddle Battle, a special modified 14-foot canoe was provided as well as paddles. The seats at each end of the canoe were positioned into front seats, allowing competitors to face each other.
The event, which is coordinated by Grayling Main Street, is a collaborative effort between Main Street and the sponsors who help put on the event.
“For Paddle Battle, we had a handful of sponsors that helped offset the cost of the event. AuSable Dumpster brings us the two dumpsters and they put it together and seal it for us. City of Grayling fills the pool for us. Katie Olson with Farm Bureau Insurance paid for all of our signage, the banners we had to have printed. Blarney Stone Broadcasting did previews and promotions for us for several weeks, as well as promotion of paddlers and sponsors. They also did a live remote for us the day of the event. Sponsors cover the prize money,” said Rae Gosling, Grayling Main Street Program Director.
The event featured a few new details, such as separated brackets between men and women, as well as the sponsorship awards.
“This year we had eight women paddlers and 14 male paddlers,” said Gosling.
The battle was fierce, with Vickie Hart coming out victorious in the women’s bracket. Hart was sponsored by the Grayling Promotional Association.
In the men’s division, Mo Harwood came out on top. He was sponsored by Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails.
“Mo Harwood participated in the first ever Paddle Battle, and was the first ever winner. He did not compete last year, as he had another commitment, but he did come back this year and won, so he is a two-time Paddle Battle champion,” said Gosling.
“The guy that Mo went up against in the final was a casual canoer; he is the type of paddler who just floats down the river, and he put up a good fight again Mo, which makes it so exciting to watch,” said Gosling.
In all, the event was a major success, raising money for next year’s Marathon while adding competition to this year’s AuSable River Festival. For more information on the Paddle Battle, contact Rae Gosling from Grayling Main Street at firstname.lastname@example.org.