Record numbers set to reach Monaco
The Red Bull X-Alps is on course to see a record number of pilots reach the raft in Monaco harbour.
Yesterday, five athletes arrived in Peille. They literally raced for the line, overtaking each other on the ground and in the sky as they raced for a podium spot.
This morning Ferdinand van Schelven (NED) arrived shortly before 11am after a marathon hike. He’d been walking since 7pm the evening before and up for nearly 30 hours. “I am very happy to be here,” he said, “I was falling asleep while walking.”
And this afternoon Gavin McClurg has been gunning for the line. “I made 40km flying yesterday evening, then I started to walk at 9pm and haven’t stopped. My feet are white, blistered and I’m in pain.”
After taking off at lunchtime his flight was cut short by a stiff seabreeze, forcing him to land and hike the final 9km. He is expected to arrive this afternoon.
Behind him, weather conditions are good for flying and athletes will be able to fly for much of the day if lucky. With two days still to go that puts the finish line on top of Peille within reach for all athletes up to and including Michael Witschi (SUI3).
That would mean 20 athletes could make goal – a record for the Red Bull X-Alps. In the 2013 Red Bull X-Alps 10 athletes made goal, which itself was a record. On average, only 12% of athletes make goal in any edition of the Red Bull X-Alps.
The increase in performance is largely down to an increase in preparation. Never before have athletes treated the Red Bull X-Alps so professionally or trained so hard. Better equipment has also played a part.
Meanwhile, at the back, the race is on to avoid elimination. Dawn Westrum (USA3) is in an aerial fight with Gerald Gold (AUT2) as they both fly towards the Matterhorn Turnpoint.
Westrum was leading this morning after a 100km flight yesterday, but was overtaken in the air by Gold this afternoon. Gold has also pulled his Led Lenser Night Pass, which will allow him to hike through the night while Westrum has to rest.
The final elimination happens at 6am on Thursday.
With the clock now ticking down on the final 48 hours of the 2015 Red Bull X-Alps, athletes are still feeling the pressure and still racing for the raft in Monaco.
Photo © zooom.at/Kelvin Trautman