The Red Bull X-Alps started out from Salzburg on July 2 and will end in Monaco after several gruelling days. Described as the world’s toughest adventure race, the biannual event is now in its eighth edition as athletes hike and paraglide across seven countries.
Slovenia has been added to the route, joining Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France, meaning that participants will have to traverse four times between the northern and southern fringes of Europe’s largest mountain range. The route involves seven turn points through the seven countries, the total race distance is 1,138 kilometres and participants will reach heights of 2,864 metres above sea level.
A total of 32 athletes are taking part, hiking up to 100 kilometres a day in mountainous terrain carrying paragliders. Athletes only have three months to study the route and those who put in the preparation will come out on top.
According to the organisers, getting the nutrition right is vital for endurance. Athletes have to consume an immense number of calories – the equivalent of 1.5kg of pasta a day and thletes can lose huge amounts of weight. During his first Red Bull X-Alps in 2007, Tom de Dorlodot lost 10kg in the first 11 days.
The 2015 edition saw 19 of the 32 athletes make the goal – a record number since the first race in 2003. Incredibly, 12 rookies crossed the finish line in Monaco, including athletes from Korea, New Zealand and elsewhere for the first time in history.
Swiss athlete Christian Maurer won the Red Bull X-Alps 2015 race in a time of eight days, four hours and 37 minutes. It was his fourth successive win and a new record.