The toughest adventure race on the planet is set to be even tougher—strong winds already forcing the cancellation of flying for the start of the Leatherman Prologue. With a route change making the course the longest and most demanding yet, the strategic possibilities have been upped for both newcomers and seasoned pros alike. Here is a video intro to the 31 athletes who’ll be heading out July 2nd on this gruelling 1,138km hiking and paragliding race.
Even with no flying allowed due to harsh and unsafe winds, the start of the 8th edition of the Red Bull X-Alps has officially begun! Although Aaron Durogati and Sebastian Huber crossed the finish line of the Leatherman Prologue in just under two hours, showing us all they will be athletes to watch, with this year’s new route, it’s anyone’s game!
Needless to say, the competition is fiercer than ever this year. This has required the athletes and their relied on teams to make their training more intense and we-rounded than earlier races.
Even with many other projects going on (including plans to sail around the world right after crossing the X-Alps finish line), return competitor Tom de Dorlodot revolves much of his year and training around this race. He told The Outdoor Journal in an interview that “The X-Alps is a very important competition for me. Even with everything else I have been working on this year, I wanted, needed to focus on that.” He’s seen how the race has evolved first-hand and even tells stories of him being able to go grocery shopping or “refuel” on fast-food in earlier years.
“Today you have to be a ‘complete’ pilot,” David Dagault, who came second in the first ever Red Bull X-Alps in 2003 told Red Bull X-Alps reporters. “You need the speed of a top PWC pilot, the technique of a top acro pilot, the sense of the air of a big mountains xc gun. You need to be technically 100% perfect. It means you need to be able to fly your wing at 100%, any conditions, anywhere.”
“But we see people who are also top ultra runners and adventurers,” says Tom Payne, who’s been both competitor and supporter. “In the early days, athletes were good in one area—a good pilot, mountaineer or runner. Now people excel in all these areas.”
Curious to see if 4-time reigning champion, Christian Maurer, will be able to hold onto his title—or break yet another record, we’ll be following the racers along—and you should too! Live Tracking available this year.
Feature image by Felix Woelk / Red Bull Content Pool