Wes Dean, of Grayling and Kyle Stonehouse, of Grayling and formally of East Tawas paddle their way to the finish of Saturday’s C2 race. Stonehouse and Dean finished with a time of 38:01.

OSCODA – A beautiful spring day. A first place finish. Winning a bet. Things were nearly perfect for Kyle Stonehouse, 25, of Grayling, formally of East Tawas and Wes Dean, 24 of Grayling as the duo claimed first place in Saturday’s Klondike Challenge C-2 race. 

“It was pretty fun, it was exciting,” Stonehouse said. “We went in with a positive mindset and had a side bet going with Mike (Davis) and Pete (Mead). We worked well together and hopefully this makes for a good season coming up.” 

Stonehouse and Dean finished with a time of 38:01, with the second place duo of Davis, 28, of Homer and Dean, 38, of Traverse City finishing second at 39:40. The race began near Van Etten Creek and finished near the F-41 bridge, near Chemical Bank. It is known locally as a kickoff to the canoe racing season, that culminates in July with the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. 

“We’re pretty happy with how it went,” Dean said. “We were going in thinking we had a chance to win but knew there were a couple other good teams here. We are happy to come out on top. We started off the race really good in the first five minutes. We just tried to go as fast as we could and put as much distance on them as we could.” 

This gives Stonehouse and Dean, seen by many as both talented up-and-coming paddlers their first Klondike wins. 

“I was pretty happy with how the boat moved,” Stonehouse said. “I’d like to have a good year and I’m hoping we can get a couple more victories.” 

As for the weather, which saw clear skies and warm temperatures, it was seen as a marked improvement from last year’s wintry conditions

“Hands down it was nice to have the warm weather,” Dean said. “It’s awful having cold weather, after five minutes you’re just freezing. It was nice to have the warm weather and hopefully it gets us ready for the summer.” 

The C1 race was held the same time as the C2, with Danny Medina, 24, of Homer paddling his way to victory in a time of 42:50 in that race. 

“It was my first ever C1 victory, so I was real happy with it,” he said. “C1 is harder I think. You’re by yourself and you have to move the whole boat where in C2, you have someone helping you. It’s harder, especially when you have tight corners. I felt like I did really well out there though. It was a beautiful day to race and I’m looking forward to the season. I think it’s going to be a great season for my friends Kyle, Wes and I.” 

Also in C2, taking third was Bruce Barton, 61, of Homer and Matt Meersman, 42, of South Bend Indiana in a time of 41:07, Weston Willoughby, 27, of East Lansing and Mary Schlimmer, 28, of Traverse City were fourth at 42:02, in fifth in a time of 44:27 was Shawn Spallinger, 41, of Oscoda and Carrie Montgomery, 48, of Mikado, finishing sixth was LJ Bourgeois, 42, of Greenbush and Rod Matthews, 64, of Oscoda at 45:39, in seventh was Sean Brabant, 29, of Roscommon and Chris Hewitt, 28, of Lansing at 45:49, in eighth was Ray Yehl, 67, of East Tawas and Dan Gary, 60, of Oscoda at 46:02, placing ninth was Tom Cannon, 63, of East Lansing and Lynee Witte, 64, of Cadillac with a time of 46:42and in 10th was Ryan Childs, 46, of Bay City and Zach Childs, 16, of bay City in a time of 46:42. 

Taking 11th was Doug Dalman, 44, of Coopersville and Bryan Bearrs, 42, of Grayling at 48:41, Josh Kellogg, 36, of Curran and Mike Kellogg, 49, of Montague were 12th in a time of 52:26, placing 13th was Rick Gillings, 61, of Prescott and Mindy Elrod, 40, of Lincoln with a time of 53:55, Kevin Ornatowski, 61, of Tawas City and Michele Stockton, 50, of Tawas City were 14th at 56:41 and in 15th was Jessica Pieri, 31, of White Cloud and Nichole Krucinski, 30, of White Cloud. 

Following Medina in the C1 was Rebecca Davis, 29, of Homer at 46:03, Fred Mills, 65, of Roscommon at 48:56, Jerry Killingbeck, 50, of East Tawas at 50:15, Bernie Tuszynski, 61, of Gaylord at 54:12, Jerry Lambert, 54, of Frederick at 54:51, Robby Kimsel, 47, of East Tawas at 56:28, Vincent Iler, 60, of Oscoda at 57:51, Chris Scully, 59, of Lincoln at 59:40 and Nicole Owens, 40, of Frederick at 1:00:11.

In the kayak race, Scott Phillips, 61, of East Tawas came in first in a time of 58:21, Pete Simpson, 56, of Oscoda was second at 1:10:04, Mark Koschmann, 65, of Midland was third at 1:14:29 and Kirk Tews, 39, of Oscoda was fourth at 1:20:04. 

A pair of road races were held on Sunday as well, held on a looped course along Perimeter Rd., near the Van Etten Lake State Forest Campground.

Jacob Green of Prescott won the 5K race in a time of 20:40 with Mickey Kimsel of Bay City taking second at 21:19, Evan Caverly of Hale finishing third at 21:24, Robby Kimsel of East Tawas was fourth at 23:03 and Kirk Tews of Oscoda was fifth at 26:11. 

Also in the 5K race, in finishing order were Kiara Kimsel of East Tawas, Steve Ball of Oscoda, Jennifer Thompson of East Tawas, Ken Laubon of Oscoda, Taara Culton of hale, Elyssa Stewart of Austin Texas, Joey Kimsel of Oscoda, Melanie Bowie of Oscoda, Diana Jurewicz of Omer, Mike Pieri of White Cloud, Autumn Kimsel of East Tawas and Shelly Kimsel of Oscoda. 

The 10K race was won by Emily Short of St. Johns, formally of Tawas in a time of 41:10. In second was Josh Green of Prescott at 42:45, Andrew Kenyon of Oscoda was third at 43:46, Scott Garnett of Prescott was fourth at 48:14 and Amy Short of Tawas was fifth at 49:05. 

Others in the 10K race, in order of finish were James Bacarella of East Tawas, Lisa Dietlin-Kartman of Rogers City, Justin Griffth of Harrisville, Nicki Krucinski of White Cloud and Jessica Pieri of White Cloud.

“The weather was some of the best weather we’ve ever had for the Klondike, relatively warm for each event,” event organizer Ryan Matthews said. “It was great to see a good amount of local residents either racing or spectating at both events. And as always, it was great to see all the paddlers after a long winter offseason. It was pretty cool to see new champions for both the C2 and C1 races too.

“Rich Castle from Consumers Energy was present on Saturday,” he added. “He discussed Consumers Energy’s commitment to the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, as well as announced some planned improvements at their hydro facilities. We are quite pleased with our partnership with Consumers Energy. A huge thank you to AuSable Hardware, Can Do Contracting, Griff & Son Tree Service, Hume Tree & Stump Removal, WKJC, Wojahn’s Carpet & Furniture, and Chemical Bank for their support of the events. As well as a thank you too all the volunteers, participants, and anyone else who lent a hand to make the Klondike weekend a success.”