Chrigel wins Red Bull X-Alps for a fourth time
Chrigel Maurer has won the Red Bull X-Alps 2015, for an unprecedented fourth time.
He landed close to the final Turnpoint, Peille France, shortly after 3pm today and arrived at the final Turnpoint at 4.12pm – a total time of 8 days, 4h 37m. He was 110km ahead of his nearest rival, Sebastian Huber (GER3) when he landed.
“The pressure is finally over, I'm here and I'm very happy,” he said soon after he had landed. “The most important thing is to know that I am here and that we have finished the race. That I have experienced and seen so many new, amazing things, and to have shared it with others and with my team.”
He added: "Today was a good day. This final flight was the best of the whole race, because I was able to fly right to the Turnpoint, and fly above the clouds. I was above the clouds, and I landed next to the golf course right at the edge of the clouds!"
Maurer pulled off an incredible final two days flying, putting him far ahead of the chasing pack that had been on his tail for the entire race. A Red Bull X-Alps triple-champion – he won in 2009, 2011 and 2013 – all other times he has won he has had a clear lead for the entire competition.
This time however, he had tough competition in the shape of Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) and Sebastian Huber (GER). Both pilots chased Maurer hard all the way, reeling him back in each time Maurer tried to make a breakaway move.
It wasn’t until Day 8 that Maurer was finally able to make his move – after Guschlbauer and Huber had both flown into Italy, ending up on the wrong side of Mont Blanc.
Maurer flew past Mont Blanc to the north, and on to the next Turnpoint, Annecy. In windy and difficult conditions he soared the peaks late into the evening until he touched down behind the Turnpoint. The next morning he climbed to the Turnpoint, signed in and continued to hike up the mountain.
He took off and a thrilling race then followed. As Maurer was stuck in still air in the Annecy Valley, Guschlbauer raced in from behind. The pair even crossed each other in the air – Maurer heading south out of the Annecy Valley, Guschlbauer heading north towards the Annecy Turnpoint.
Maurer then took a direct line south, following the course-line. It was here that he finally pulled ahead, putting clear distance between himself and Guschlbauer, who took a wider line round to the west.
That route choice cost Guschlbauer dear as it wasn’t as direct or as fast. As Maurer pushed south late into the evening on Day 8, eventually landing just minutes before the land-by time of 9pm, Guschlbauer was stuck walking.
After a final night camped out, Maurer’s flying race began again this morning after a hike up to a 2,700m peak. Launching from there just before midday he spent almost the next four hours pushing south towards Peille.
The terrain here is notoriously difficult to fly through, and is a maze of low hills covered in scrub. Land here and it’s a long, hot run to the finish, often for hours.
However, the wind was on Maurer’s side today as he stretched out his flying day to to the very edge – landing within a few hundred metres of his goal. Touching down next to Monte Carlo Golf Club green he packed his glider and hiked the final few hundred metres to Peille.
“I will fly down to the raft in Monaco harbour tomorrow,” he said, about the traditional fly-down that always follows each athlete’s arrival at Peille. “Enough flying for today.”
Nine days after Maurer’s fourth Red Bull X-Alps had begun he was finally finished. And once again he had won – an incredible feat of flying, hiking, running and endurance in this, the toughest adventure race in the world.