Red Bull X-Alps

Christian Maurer (SUI1) tags Peille First

Christian Maurer, 34, this morning is first to arrive at Turnpoint 7 - it proved to be the hardest race in his career!

©zooom / Harald Tauderer
 ©zooom / Harald Tauderer

It was a race that saw him start with a cold and finish with a knee injury. Along the way the Swiss paragliding ace battled bad weather, got flushed by a thunderstorm and at one point found himself trailing in 21st place.

He reached Turnpoint 7 a little after 11am this morning, amid the cheers of die-hard fans who had gathered to welcome his arrival. With his arms aloft, he conquered the final few metres to the Turnpoint sign where the clock officially stops, after setting off from Salzburg just over 10 days and 23 hours ago.

He said: “I felt a lot of pressure this time. To win the first time was important. It was not so important with the others. But this time it was even more important to do well, so there was a lot of pressure. Above all it's an adventure first and foremost, not a competition..."

"It started badly. And with the wind, rain and thunderstorms, I've never faced such bad weather in Red Bull X-Alps before. That made it much harder to plan. I'm happy to be here. For my knees, it's good to be over. They never had to work so hard. This is the first time I've hiked over 500km, normally it's more like 300km."

As is tradition, Maurer’s race is not over until he makes the ceremonial and flight to Roquebrune, which will take place after 7pm due to city regulations that restrict the flights to set times of the day.

Race director Christoph Weber said: “It’s an outstanding achievement. Tell me another athlete who’s dominated his sport for eight years like Maurer has. This year was also a much more punishing course and the weather made it harder for him. He excels in the air, but had to hike much of the last 200km, so it was not easy for him at all.”

Maurer won the 2009 edition and was so quick he beat the organisers to Monaco. He subsequently won in 2011, 2013 and 2015. His success is all the more extraordinary since he started the race with a nasty cold that prevented him from competing in the one-day Leatherman Prologue.

In this race, he has covered a total distance of 2,268Km, of which 1,736km were flown in the air and 531km were hiked on the ground.

Who will next make it across the line? Stay tuned to Live Tracking to watch the drama unfold on www.redbullxalps.com

©zooom / Harald Tauderer