Swiss athlete leads surface-to-air rallye over the Alps
The battle against the elements, the clock and endurance pain started again on Sunday July 7, 2013. The Red Bull X-Alps, the world’s toughest adventure race, began with 32 athletes from 21 nations began their surface-to-air rallye over the Alps towards the finish line in Monaco. Defending champion Christian Maurer held a commanding lead at the Zugspitze.
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN (Germany) – Ability, peak physical condition and endurace are the qualities the world’s most fit paragliders need for the journey into the glamorous principality on the other side of the Alps. On the race course that wanders more than 1,000 kilometers across the Alps, the pilots will pass by towering mountain peaks such as the Dachstein, Zugspitze, Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. They will be trying to fly as much of the distance as possible because the only alternative allowed to flying is hiking.
Among the pilots at the start line this year was Romania’s Toma Coconea, widely considered the biggest challenger to defending champion Christian Maurer (SUI), as well as Jon Chambers from Great Britain, Ferdinand van Schelven from the Netherlands and the Americans Honza Rejmanek and Stephan Haase. The latter is a Red Bull X-Alps rookie, just like the Czech athlete Michal Krysta, Babu Sunuwar from Nepal and twelve other newcomers to the event.
From Salzburg the athletes will cross the Alps towards the principality of Monaco and have to pass a total of 10 checkpoints in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France.
Each day between 5 a.m. and 10:30 p.m the athletes will be battling to get closer to the goal while at the same time avoiding no-fly zones (for civil aviation) while having to cope with all the unforgiving challenges that nature can throw up against them both in the air and on the ground. The Extreme Challenge will become even more tense starting July 10 when, every second day, the pilot in last place at the end of that day will be forced to retire from the race.
Switzerland’s Christian Maurer won the last edition of Red Bull X-Alps, reaching Monaco in 11 days, 4 hours and 22 minutes. He is once again considered the man to beat.
Having passed the Zugspitze early on day three, Maurer is currently on his way towards the 3906m Ortler in South Tyrol (ITA). His closest followers are currently Clement Latour and Antoine Girard (both FRA) as well as Toma Coconea (ROM) and the Italian duo of Aaron Durogati and Peter Gebhard.
Battling against elimination at the other end of the race are Inigo Gabiria (ESP), Babu Sunuwar (NPL), Pierre Carter (RSA) and Claudio Heidel (ARG). Follow their fortune live!