Curley Memorial Canoe Race

JULY 15 & 16, 2023

Please Support Your Race Sponsors!!

Curley Memorial Canoe Race


Formed in 1994, the event was originally known as the Harry Curley Memorial Canoe Race, in honor of “Mr. AuSable Canoe Race”, Harry Curley. The event was renamed in 2003 to the Curley Memorial Canoe Race after the sudden passing of Kevin Curley, a popular Oscoda canoe paddler and avid race organizer. In the years since, the race has come to honor other members of the Curley family involved with canoe racing, as well as all of the individuals who have contributed to the sport of Michigan canoe racing, whether through race organizing, volunteering, or participating. The Curley Awards Picnic, held annually after the C-2 race, gathers donations for the MCRA’s Canoer’s Memorial Monument fund.


  • Harry Curley (1910-1986) – Harry became dedicated to the Marathon after the death of his son Gerald. He helped with the organization of the Marathon for several decades, and helped shape the Marathon into the event it is today. The Michigan state legislature passed a resolution naming him “Mr. AuSable Canoe Race” in 1973.
  • Gerald Curley (1935-1953) – Finished the Marathon 8th in 1952. Tragically drowned in Lake Huron in 1953 while training for the Marathon. One of the inspirations for the Canoer’s Memorial Monument.
  • Delbert Curley (1933-2011) – Finished the Marathon 5th in 1952 and 4th in 1953.
  • Roger Curley (1938-2007) – Attempted the Marathon in 1955 but did not finish.
  • Kevin Curley (1958-2003) – Kevin had an endless passion and vigor for canoe racing. In 1994, he helped found the Harry Curley Memorial Canoe Race. Kevin inspired and motivated rookie and veteran paddlers alike. He organized youth paddling clinics to get the “young guns” into racing. Kevin was known for yelling “touché!” to the competitors he passed during races, and infamous for the upside-down #32 on his canoe, claiming his canoe number looked upright to him whenever he tipped-over. Kevin’s tireless efforts remain an inspiration for all, and to this day, many paddlers pay tribute to him by featuring a “Curley #32” on their canoes. Finished the Marathon five times (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2000).
  • Sylvia Curley-Harmon (1945-2020) – Daughter of Harry Curley, Sylvia was a long-time race volunteer and Marathon committee member. She was also heavily involved with the Canoer’s Memorial Monument.

28th Annual C-2 Race – July 15, 2023

$30.00 entry fee per team if Pre-Registered.

$40.00 entry fee per team day of event, if not Pre-Registered

Check-In Registration begins at 7:00 a.m. for both Expert-1 and Expert-2’s at Cooke Dam. If Pre-Registered, you must check-in at the registration table and sign a waiver.

To Pre-Register, download the C-2 Pre-Registration Form below.

Fill out the form and mail to:
Curley Memorial Canoe Race, P.O. Box 652, Oscoda, MI. 48750
Make checks payable to Justin Griffith. Pre-Registration forms must be received by July 11th. 2022.

Race Course: Race starts at 9:00 a.m. at the embankment wall of Cooke Dam; canoers paddle upstream to round a buoy, and then come back to portage over the dam and continue downstream; canoers portage a second time at Foote Dam and then proceed to the Finish Line just upstream of the AuSable Inn. Expert-2’s will start first, with the Expert-1’s starting when the last Expert-2 team has portaged Cooke Dam.

Winning time is about 2.5 hrs.

The Pre-Race Briefing is MANDATORY for all racers. A roll-call may be held to verify attendance.

Following the C-2 race, there is a MCRA Awards Picnic (approximately 1:00 p.m.), at the American Legion Pavilion, 349 S. State St., Oscoda. A donation jar will be setup, and donation proceeds go to benefit the MCRA Canoers Memorial on River Rd. Eating begins around 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. with awards following.

Racers who fail to receive their prize at the Awards Picnic, will have their prize donated to the MCRA Canoers Memorial.

Total Expert-1 & Expert-2 Prize Purse of $3,500; a minimum of the Top 50 Expert-1 teams, and the Top 10 Expert-2 teams will earn prizes.

C-2 Pre-Registration Entry Form Coming Soon

C-1 Race – July 16, 2023

$15 entry per paddler

Check-In Registration at the AuSable Children’s Park (at the corner of Harbor St. and O’Toole St.). Registration starts 8:00 a.m.

Race Course: Race starts at 10:00 a.m. at the AuSable Children’s Park. Paddlers will race two (2) laps from Children’s Park to round a buoy just downstream of the railroad trestle bridge, and back. This allows for better spectating of the paddlers in town.

Winning time is about 1 hr.

Awards immediately following the conclusion of the C-1 race at the AuSable Children’s Park.

Minimum prize pool of $1,000; a minimum of the Top 20 C-1 racers will earn prizes.

C-1 Registration Form coming soon.

The Curley Memorial Canoe Race is a Michigan Canoe Racing Association sanctioned event.

Race Contact

Justin Griffith

“The racers finishing in last place paddled just as hard and just as far as the winners” – Harry Curley

Spike’s Challenge Race