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Christof Luedi is a Famous Runner from the Alps Enjoying Outrigger Canoeing


Christof Luedi is a Famous Runner from the Alps Enjoying Outrigger Canoeing and now with his new passion he truly is having fun. Christof probably has picked the best place on earth to experience outrigger canoeing. In my opinion, the islands are the best place to go canoeing. There are so many beautiful things to see as you canoe around each island.

Christof Luedi Outrigger Canoeing in Hawaii

Growing up in the Swiss Alps, Christof Luedi’s fitness routine centered around mountain activities such as cross-country skiing, cycling and running. But when a job with the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts took him to Hawaii in 2000, he adapted his workout to his new home.

From Skiing to Canoeing
An employee offered to take Mr. Luedi out in an outrigger canoe and he discovered “it wasn’t just about the workout,” recalls the 53-year-old regional vice president and general manager of the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island. “I learned how culturally significant the whole sport of outrigger canoe paddling is to Hawaii.”

Mr. Luedi—a longtime runner who completed more than 100 triathlons and more than 50 marathons—was instantly hooked. “I loved the idea of exploring the islands in these canoes just like people did years and years ago,” he says.

Unlike rowing or kayaking, outrigger canoes have support floats fastened to one or both sides and the paddle has only one blade. And six paddlers stroke on opposite sides until the person in the third seat orders them to switch sides, about every 15 strokes.

From 2003 to 2008, Mr. Luedi, with various other paddlers in a six-man outrigger canoe, covered 1,650 miles throughout the Hawaiian archipelago. Distances ranged from a 30-mile paddle between Maui and Lana’i islands to a 450-mile paddle between Necker and Laysan islands. “The longest stretch we went for was 83 hours…in the wide open ocean where swells can reach 40 feet,” he says. “We found ourselves closer to Japan at one point.”

Mr. Luedi spends his summer months paddling in races with his club. The season culminates in October with a 41-mile race from Molokai to Oahu across the treacherous Kaiwi Channel. He hopes to complete the race for the 10th time this year. In the winter, he competes in one-man canoe races and stand-up paddleboards.

The Workout
Mr. Luedi says he often works 18-hour days, so to fit in his strength and cardio he wakes at 3 a.m. Workouts vary as on Tuesday and Thursday he does weights and cardio at the hotel fitness center.

The Fairmont corporate headquarters are in Toronto, so the time difference means Mr. Luedi can answer emails and make calls for an hour before he hits the resort’s gym. For 90 minutes, he warms up on the bike and then does a strength routine focused on the muscles used for paddling. “The paddle technique actually has to do more with rotating your upper body so you are using your lats, your lower- and upper-back muscles, and your core,” says Mr. Luedi.

Christof Luedi is a Famous Runner from the Alps Enjoying Outrigger Canoeing

Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings he runs through the resort before work. Two runs are often shorter distances, but at a high intensity, which he monitors with a heart-rate monitor. He might run hard for five minutes and then jog for two minutes, or he might sprint up a short, steep hill and jog down four or five times. Once a week, he goes on a slower-paced endurance run for about two hours.

He trains with his canoe club Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings for two hours.

The Diet
He eats five or six small meals a day. He has two cups of coffee each morning as well as oatmeal, yogurt and fruit. Lunch and dinner are salads with chicken or fish, such as ono, ahi, or mahi-mahi. Snacks might include mango, papaya, pineapple, apple, bananas or a sweet potato. “The Hawaiian Islands provide for a very healthy diet,” he says.

Long races, where he is active for six hours or more, require him to constantly refuel. He’ll take an electrolyte pill every hour while paddling and a homemade energy gel.

The Gear
Mr. Luedi says his first paddle was a used one for $40. Top-of-the-line paddles of carbon fiber can cost around $250. One-man outrigger canoes can run as much as $4,500, but Mr. Luedi says a used one can go for around $1,000. He paid $2,5000 for his stand-up paddleboard. His canoe-club membership costs $130 a year.

He runs in Onitsuka Tiger, a retro-looking Japanese minimalist sneaker that costs $50 a pair. A longtime proponent of the minimalist footwear movement, Mr. Luedi recently started to run in his flip-flops. At first, he would just run his warm-up before a canoe race in them. Eventually he started logging more miles. Flip-flops “are the quintessential footwear in Hawaii,” he says. “I can go 15 miles in them. People find it very amusing.” His Garmin heart-rate monitor cost $150.

The Playlist
On his long runs, he listens to a mix of Hawaiian music, top-40 hits, and songs by Elton John and Guns N’ Roses.

Christof Luedi is a Famous Runner from the Alps Enjoying Outrigger Canoeing and maybe the next time your thinking of visiting our relaxing islands, you too may want to give outrigger canoeing a try…

~~Aloha Nui Loa


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