Red Bull X-Alps

Catching up with the Red Bull X-Alps Rookies!

Regretting the decision yet? We check in with some of this year’s rookies to hear how their preparations are coming along.

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With three months to go until the start, now is the time athletes are cranking out incredible weekly mileages and training harder than they’ve ever done in their lives.

This is also a time when hopefully, the sponsors are in, they know what gear they’re going to use and – as soon as the route is revealed – they can just concentrate on route preparation. But it doesn’t always work out so smoothly. There are still numerous hurdles; the drive for additional sponsors will continue right up to race start and many athletes will be battling small niggles, with gear or their body.

“I had the ‘holy cr*p’ moments early on, even before being accepted!” Richard Brezina (CAN) tells us. “My main stress was whether I was going to be able to raise enough money but the generosity of my Japanese friends proved this completely unfounded.”

The athlete, who’s based in Japan, has managed to raise the funds and is now putting in some big hiking days and long x-c flights. “Today, for example, I walked and ran 50km on roads with my pack on and felt I could have done another 50 without any difficulty.”  

He adds: “And as far as flying, it's lucky that the best XC season is here now in Kyushu and I have been doing some first-of-a-kind flights including a 95km tour of central Kyushu that has never been flown before. I've also been practicing flying in extremely rough air, strong winds, doing full stalls, all with excellent results.”

Che Golus (AUS) is another athlete for whom raising the cash has been a big issue. (Although there’s no fee for athletes, the race demands a significant time commitment.) He’s crowd-funding his campaign.

“It’s going well,” he says. “I'm feeling good, focusing on endurance now, putting in a lot of hours of hiking and other training. We leave Australia at the end of May.”

He’s not the only rookie looking forward to recceing the route. “My preparations are going well. I stick to the plan from my coach and physical progress is visible from day to day,” says Michal Gierlach (POL). “From 6th of April I'm going to jump into my old van and drive, fly and run the route – the Alps will by my home for the next three months.”

Fellow Red Bull X-Alps first timer Mitch Riley (USA3) is also feeling strong. “I am becoming a paraglider carrying machine,” he says. “My training plan is paying off in a big way, and I'm only going to get stronger and stronger!”

He adds: “I recently spent seven weeks in Colombia where I flew nearly every day, and lots of 6+ hour days. I’m feeling sharp and fearless under my glider. I am well prepared, fit, flying like a champ, and have my heart set on making it to Monaco as fast as I possibly can.”

Watch out Chrigel Maurer...