Beth Schluter, the legend, has been a national and international champion for over four decades.Beth competes in open, masters and age group classifications in canoe and Nordic adventure and endurance races. Best known as a marathon canoe racer, she has won multiple USCA National Canoe and Kayak Championships in C1 Woman, C2 Women, and Mixed in nearly all age divisions.
Like all elite athletes, Beth has talent, strength and determination, skills she has developed with a regimen of mental preparation, efficiency training, attention to diet and living in an environment with clean air and water.
Aging competitive athletes need continuous improvements in efficiency and technique, according to Beth. Her husband and former coach, Errol Schluter said, “She concentrates on technique more than physical strength.” Beth says, “Being aware of body alignment is important because it’s easier on the body.”
Many of Beth’s competitors come to events with morephysical preparation and training, but her secret is mental preparation. Beth trains her brain through visualization exercises and mental focus to gain an advantage over her competition.
NeilWiesner-Hanks, Beth’s long-time paddling partner, refers to her as “The Legend.” He said, “Beth doesn’t make mistakes. Her competitors, some of whom are younger, stronger and faster, lose to her because they make mistakes.”
The longest, most grueling endurance event in which she has competed is the Water Tribe Everglades Challenge. Paddlers compete for up to eight days along the Florida coast for 300 nautical miles. In 2010, Beth’s team paddled nonstop through wind, rain, currents and waves to finish in 99 hours, roughly half the allowable time.
A fun endurance race is the annual Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe Race. This 55-mile Pacific Ocean endurance event involves racing a six-person, 40-foot canoe weighing roughly 400 pounds. She first raced this event in 1986, stunning the outrigger community by taking second place with a hobbled together team of marathon paddlers from the Midwest with no prior outrigger experience. In 2007, Beth assembled an elite team of American and Canadian marathon paddlers to win the Masters Crew with a mere two days of team training, beating the Hawaiians at their own event!
Beth enjoys Nordic skiing. For the past 27 years, she has competed in the American Birkebeiner, winning her age class for 20 years and placing in the top three for five years. This cross-country ski marathon attracts national teams and citizen racers (non-professional)from around the world. Her proudest moments: In 1977, she captured third overall in the women’s category and first among citizen racers.Thirty-four years later (2011), Beth finished with a time of 3:31 capturing first place in her age group among women for this 50K skate ski event.
A new interest for Beth is sport-hunting with her dogs. This year, Beth placed first in Mixed Doubles Flusher in the Wisconsin Championship Hunting Series (pheasant), qualifying her for the World Championship this fall.
In addition to mental preparation and efficiency training, Beth attributes some of her success to a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in her garden. The Schluters hunt wild game on theirfarm and live on a fresh water lake where fish are abundant and her diet consists mainly of fresh foods that are free of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. She has reduced her intake of carbohydrates, dairy and sugar and believes that this diet has made a difference in her overall health and high energy level.
Another aspect of Beth’s lifestylethat has contributed to her athletic success is cross training. Her regimen strengthens all of her muscles and maintains sharp reflexes,balance, agility and peace of mind.
In addition to skiing and paddling, Beth blends swimming, hiking and snowshoeing into her training.She works 10-12 hours per week in the summer and longer in winter. Beth lifts weights and practices yoga.
She gives generously of her time and talent to develop skills in others. Her technique is nearly flawless and her coaching style is kind and caring.
Bethwould not describe herself as a legend, as do others, and does not readily talk about her accomplishments. After finishing a race, she immediately shifts focus to the next event.
Beth is admired for hertalent, humility and generous nature. Shedemonstrates the importance of mental preparation, efficiency training, and the long-term benefits of a healthy, active life style. Beth exhibits a winning formula and mark of a true champion from which legends are made.
© 2012 Anne Wall, All Rights Reserved.