As many as 100 canoers and kayakers travel from as far as France compete this morning for gold, silver, and bronze medals in the 38th annual Vermilion River Race
. But if the water level is low, the competition could be moved upstream, closer to Lake Erie, where the level is normally a couple of feet higher. "For a skilled boater, high water levels are not a problem," says Rob Hammond, treasurer of the Keel-Haulers Canoe Club, which hosts the event. "But we get a lot of beginner boaters at this race, and it's a little hazardous for them. They can get pushed into logs in the river, and they might have difficulty navigating the hydraulics." Rowers shove off from the starting line at one-minute intervals. The fastest contestants typically finish the course in an hour, but for many rowers, the challenge is to concentrate while maneuvering on the 38-degree water. "The hardest thing is to maintain your focus," says Hammond, who took home the first-place prize in 2001. "When you're paddling for an hour, it's hard to focus on each stroke. You tend to get sloppy and distracted, but it's a good way to gauge how you're doing. If you're passing people, then you're in better shape than people passing you."
Sun., April 2, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.