Members of Kickin’ Asphalt pose on the Erie Canal Towpath in Lockport earlier this week. They started the Ragnar Relay at 6:30 this morning. (Matthew Masin/Buffalo News)
By Scott Scanlon
If you’re looking to visit Niagara Falls, Ont. on Saturday, expect things to get even more exciting than a typical summer weekend day at the hub of the region’s international tourist destination.
The Ragnar Relay will blow into the city for the first time.
This relay series is a big thing across the country but is new to the Niagara Frontier – and at least one team from Western New York will be there to represent.
Denise Salmons, 48, of Lockport, is operations manager at Cornerstone Community Credit Union, but she has another title this weekend: captain of Kickin’ Asphalt, a 12-member team from mostly Niagara County in the midst of a two-day relay race in Southern Ontario.
The team is among more than 100 participating in the 193-mile relay race, which starts in Cobourg, Ont., about 75 miles east of Toronto, at 6:30 a.m. Friday and ends Saturday afternoon at Table Rock in Niagara Falls.
Salmons and her team learned about the relay from a friend who ran one of the series races between Key West and Miami earlier this year.
Team members – ranging in age from 22 to 62 – will participate for Kickin’ Asphalt in the new Canadian installment of the series, said Salmons, who runs one to two races a month this time a year, and recently ran the Buffalo Half-Marathon in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 30 seconds.
"The miles won’t be harder than the half marathon but I think the fact that it’s going to take about 33 or 34 hours to complete is going to make it challenging because you will not get a lot of sleep," Salmons said.
They’ll also spend part of the run in the dark, and team members practiced by running along the Erie Canal Towpath in the late night the wee morning hours in recent weeks, while wearing "head lamps."
Kickin’ Asphalt will split up in two vans for the Ragnar Relay and take turns running legs that stretch up to 9.7 miles but tend to be 3 to 8 miles long.
Salmons said she’s the No. 7 runner on the squad and that teammates need to run in order throughout the race.
"I have no idea what the race is going to be like," she told me this week. "I think it’s going to be fun, a lot of high energy because of the nature of a relay. I think the aid stations are going to be a lot of fun. I think there’s going to be a lot of people, a lot of stuff going on."
To find out what Salmons ate to prepare for the race, read What are you eating? in WNY Refresh on Saturday.
Refresh also will keep you up to date in the coming months about next year’s Niagara Ontario Ragner Relay.