Black Squirrel Scurry is not for the faint of heart

Paddling triathalon raises money for charity

One leg of the triathalon involves paddling a two-mile stretch of the Prairie River.


Merrill’s Black Squirrel Scurry is a triathalon that combines running, biking, and kayaking in a fun race for charity. Considered a “paddling triathalon,” the July 29, 2023, race encompassed 2 miles of paddling kayaks on the Prairie River, a 19-mile biking adventure on area roads, and a 5K-run on a pedestrian trail.
Dozens of athletes gathered to take on the challenge, including those who raced as individuals or in tandem or relay teams. Racers included many northcentral Wisconsin residents and other athletes from as far away as Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa.
Individual racers ranged in age from 14 to 71, with Merrill’s 14-year-old Erik Grunenwald being the youngest competitor and the only athlete under age 18. He came in at a very respectible time of 1:59:59.
For the tandem teams, Team Owl took first place with a time of 3:54:54.
For relay teams, the Mighty Midgets took first place, completing the course with a time of 1:56:27.
For individuals competing, Gerard Lauzen of Ironwood, Mich., took first place overall and for the men with a time of 1:35:29, while Melissa Omernick of Gleason took first place for the women with a time of 2:02:53.
The Northwoods Veterans Post and Friends of the River Bend Trail are the beneficiaries of this year’s event.
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