Taking on the Red Bull X-Alps is arguably as tactical as it is exhausting. The athletes need a whole lot more than just excellent endurance racing, mountaineering and paragliding skills. They must also have the physical and mental strength to push themselves day after day towards the finishing line. The question is, how does one prepare for the almost superhuman strength and determination required to compete?Take Austrian pilot Paul Guschlbauer for example. His planning for this year’s race appears to be closely linked to intuition. He says that when training, he likes to take advantage of whatever nature provides. Guschlbauer goes ski touring if it snows, but takes to the air as soon as the thermals start. He also explains that he eats only what his body feels it needs and currently has no diet plan. “I think that having fun in what you do is essential for being in good mental and physical shape,” he says.
Gavin McClurg of the USA on the other hand has adopted a much more structured approach to his training. Following an impressive 8th place debut at Red Bull X-Alps 2015, McClurg’s brutal training regime is well under way. His physical preparation consists of intense interval workouts and anaerobic threshold training to build up strength. As if this wasn’t enough, he also manages to fit in cycling and ski touring several days a week to improve his endurance. “The goal is to make the body super resilient so it can handle the abuse,” he explains. In addition, he follows a strict diet plan developed by a professional nutritionist, which includes natural supplements such as fish oils and collagen powders.
Former German champion Manuel Nübel broke his kneecap just four months before Red Bull X-Alps 2015. Despite his injury, he went on to shock everyone with a grueling 9th place finish and will be hungry for more in 2017. He says; “I am already in better shape than last time and the next four months will boost my endurance for sure.” Like most, Nübel’s preparation includes mountain running, XC skiing and cycling. However, he has also been working on taking off in strong winds and packing his gear as fast as possible, which may give him an advantage during the race. Will he be capable of pushing for the podium now that he’s returning to full health?
Red Bull X-Alps rookie and 2017’s youngest competitor Tobias Grossrubatscher from Italy has a completely different set of factors to contend with. He needs both the physical preparation and careful planning to help him through the biggest race of his career. The highly motivated Italian has been training five to six times a week from hiking and flying, to ski touring and trail running. He is also working on a diet plan and has been studying the areas around Dachstein, Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. He says; “All preparation is on schedule, so we can concentrate on planning the routes and strategies.”
In contrast to Grossrubatscher, reigning champion Christian ‘Chrigel’ Maurer from Switzerland is able to draw on many more years of experience. The four-time consecutive winner of Red Bull X-Alps is currently planning to do 30,000m of vertical ascents each month until the start of the race. He also says that eating as much as possible is more important than a specific diet plan. For the first time however, Chrigel will be replacing his long-time teammate Thomas Theurillat with a new supporter, which may raise questions about whether he can retain the title. “At the start line, I know I can make it, but on the other hand every edition is new and different. This is what motivates me to do it again,” he says confidently.
Whatever the strategy, the constantly changing conditions make it impossible to predict how things will work out on race day. Mental preparation alone won’t be enough to win Red Bull X-Alps 2017. Tactical planning is nothing without physical fitness and unparalleled resilience; for this is set to be a whole new level of adventure.
To meet the athletes and learn more about the race, head over to redbullxalps.comand facebook.com/redbullxalps.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR by red bull x alps 2017
A full list of the 32 athletes including individual profiles and further details can be found on redbullxalps.com/athletes. All athletes are available for interviews with the media upon request.
For editorial, image or interview requests please contact Maximilian Blair at email@example.com or +43 6226 8848-29.
ABOUT RED BULL X-ALPS
Red Bull X-Alps 2017 will start on July 2 and will be the eighth edition of the world’s toughest adventure race. The combination of trekking and paragliding is one of the most exciting hybrids to emerge from the ongoing convergence of mountain sports. During the race, athletes must hike or fly as fast as possible a straight-line distance of more than 1,000km across the Alps via a currently undisclosed number of turnpoints.
To bring fans even closer to the action, a one-day race – the Leatherman Prologue – will be held in Fuschl am See, Austria during which spectators can watch up close as the athletes race for one of three additional Ledlenser Nightpasses and a five-minute headstart on the main race. In 2015 this one-day race was won by Austrian Paul Guschlbauer.
Red Bull X-Alps 2015 saw 19 of the 32 competing athletes make the goal – a record number since the first race in 2003. Incredibly, 12 rookies crossed the finish line, including athletes from the US, Korea, New Zealand and elsewhere for the first time in history.
Swiss athlete Christian Maurer, however, won the Red Bull X-Alps 2015 race in the time of 8 days, 4 hours and 37 minutes. It was his fourth successive win – and a new record. Could 2017 see athletes like Sebastian Huber or Paul Guschlbauer end Maurer’s reign as Red Bull X-Alps champion? Only one thing is certain – anything could happen!