Start Gun Sounds on World’s Toughest Adventure Race

31 athletes begin the 1,138km epic hike-and-fly adventure to Monaco – the hard way.

Under dark and threatening clouds in Salzburg, Austria, 31 athletes from 20 countries today set off on the Red Bull X-Alps 2017. Their mission? To get to Monaco in the fastest time possible, whether paragliding or on foot, via a set route that weaves its way across 7 countries.

First on the checklist was the summit of the Gaisberg, a 1,287m peak that overlooks SalzburgerLand. Sebastian Huber (GER1) was first to reach the top in 01h 03m, followed by Toma Coconea (ROU) in 01h 10m. Chrigel Maurer (SUI1), Aaron Durogati(ITA1), Nelson de Freyman (FRA3) and Benoit Outters (FRA4) made the top as a pack in a provisional time of 01h 12m.

All athletes were on top of the peak by 2pm after setting off on foot from the city’s Mozartplatz, running past the city’s famous landmarks before crossing the Salzach river.

The next turnpoint is more challenging to make. It’s situated on the peak of Triglav, Slovenia, some 157km to the south.

With adverse weather making flying all but impossible, athletes face a brutal start to the race, beginning on foot, carrying all their paragliding equipment and mandatory gear.

In a surprise move three athletes have already deployed their Ledlenser Night Passes, allowing them to hike through the mandatory rest period. Toma Coconea (ROU), Gavin McClurg (USA1) and Sebastian Huber (GER1) will all hike through the night.

Ledlenser Night Passes must be deployed before midday of the day the athlete wants to use them, so this is a tactical decision by all three athletes to get some serious distance behind them early in the race.

According to the rules, the team in last place on Wednesday July 5th will be eliminated. And every 48 hours thereafter the last team is axed.

Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) said: “The Red Bull X-Alps is the ultimate race – a combination of flying, mountaineering, endurance and tactics all happening in the incredible playground of the Alps.”

Race organiser Ulrich Grill said: “It’s not just a paragliding race. You have to be prepared to hike and it looks like this year we’ll see a lot of that.”

Quelle and Photo by © zooom / Honza Zak