Over the Alps by air or foot
A most grueling battle against the elements, the clock and through the pain barrier once again lifted off from Salzburg on July 2. A total of 31 participants from 20 countries set off at the start of the Red Bull X-Alps competition, an air to ground rallye over the Alps to Monte Carlo.
Even though on paper the distance from Salzburg to Monaco is slightly more than 1,100 kilometers, the reality is that the athletes taking part in this year’s Red Bull X-Alps race will be covering far more than double that distance in their race over the Alps. The goal is to fly as much of that as possible with their hanggliders because the only alternative to that is hiking with the hangglider on their back.
Switzerland’s Christian Mauerer, who has won the race all four times he took part, set a most impressive record time of just under seven days in 2013, largely because he managed to cover some 90% of the distance that year in the air. The top favorite has an enormous disadvantage this year. Because he was has been ill and unable to take part in the Leatherman prologue, he has to start the second day of racing an hour after the others.
Because the Swiss favorite says he is only running at about 95% of his full strength, his main rivals believe they have a good shot at stopping him this year. Paul Guschlbauer (AUT), Sebastian Huber (GER), Aaron Durogati (ITA) and Antoine Girard (FRA) are more confident than ever of victory.
Starting out in Salzburg in extremely poor weather conditions kept the athletes grounded and forced to hike by foot towards Slovania and the Triglav. But three days later the best of the field, led by defending champion Maurer, past Chiemsee Lake and were already on the way toards the Zugspitze mountain in Germany. From there the race turns south towards Monte Baldo on Lake Garda in Italy, ! past the Matterhorn in Switzlerand and along the French Alps on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea towards Monaco.
Every day between 5 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. the athletes will be in the air or on the ground racing towards the finish while at the same time taking care to steer clear of no-fly zones closed off for civilian aviation while being left to the mercy of Mother Nature in the air and on the ground.
Those closest in pursuit of Christian Maurer include Gaspar Petiot (FRA), Nelson de Freyman (FRA), Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) as well as Aaron Durogati (ITA). Also still in the thick of things are Simon Oberauner (AUT) Tobias Grossrubatscher (ITA), Simon Mayer (CZE) and Manuel Nübel (GER).
Helping to make the Red Bull X-Alps all the more special is the possibility to follow the progress of each individual athlete in real time on line through a live tracking system at www.redbullxalps/livetracking.html
Content supplied by Red Bull Media House