Staff Profile: Christina Ruiz, paddler

Christina Ruiz is an accounting specialist for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Shared Service Center and enjoys recreational paddling

When did you start kayak/canoeing?kayak pic_1

Canoeing began for me about 15 years ago. Within that same year I purchased my first kayak. Some people say they are either a “kayak person” or a “canoe person”, but I continue to enjoy both equally.

How did you get involved?

Paddling initially was a way for me to explore the 173 miles of our Kansas River out of pure wanderlust. After paddling on the “Kaw” for the first time on a 35 mile trip I was hooked. I began competing in ultramarathon paddling events in 2006 and continue to love long distances and multiple days of non-stop paddling.

In 2009 I started working as a river guide part-time which included teaching basic kayak instruction and river safety. Getting others involved in the sport is continually rewarding to me, and even the basic fundamentals of paddling are still good reminders for me as I share those skills.

I captained an ultra team in 2010 and we broke a Guinness world record for longest distance paddled in a dragon boat (294.58 nautical miles). To date this is my favorite race record because we also used the event to raise funds for the Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis.

How often do you kayak/canoe?

I’m paddling once or twice a week throughout the year. This gets a little more difficult in the winter once water starts freezing up, so it’s not uncommon that I have to take a break and wait for a thaw.medal

What’s your favorite part of the sport?

Hard to say, but it would include experiencing nature and wildlife in quiet places, getting a good workout, spending time with friends, finding how far I can push my mind and body on the water, competing with other athletes, and just being self-propelled.

How many places have you been to kayak/canoe? Do you have a favorite place?

My favorite place to paddle is the Kansas River hands down. It’s un-channelized with braided and often submerged sand bars that require a paddler to become good at reading water in order to be efficient. It’s unforgiving and challenging and helps me grow as a paddler. It’s also really convenient for me to access, so I like to call it “my backyard”. If you live in Lawrence, it’s your backyard too, so go check it out!