Life after the Red Bull X-Alps
Former Red Bull X-Alps athlete and supporter Tom Payne on what happens the day after the race stops
By Friday noon a record number of teams will have arrived in Peille and flown down to land on the raft in Monaco harbour. As their feet touched down on the float in the sea, so their long journey came to an end.
This is not the journey that started not ten days ago in Salzburg but the journey that began one year ago, when they started preparing for this moment. To compete in the world's toughest adventure race demands a year of intensive training as a very minimum: twelve months of preparation for twelve days of racing.
For some, the journey started even longer before that. To compete in the Red Bull X-Alps was a dream. To land on the raft, a fantasy. One that sculpted their lives as they scrupulously prepared: learning to fly, learning mountain skills, learning to run and hike long distances and then proving those skills in adventure races across the planet to earn that place.
And now, the dream is realised. It is over.
When something that has defined your life for so long ends, so its absence leaves a large hole. Tomorrow these teams will wake at 4:30am, only to realise that there is no first breakfast to prepare, no familiar backpack to shoulder, no immediate mountain to climb, and no next turnpoint to reach.
What will they do now? What will they do next? For the teams in Monaco, the initial jolt of surprise will pass, and they will spend the next two days enjoying doing as little as humanly possible before the party and prize giving on the seafront on Friday night.
But on Saturday afternoon, once the heads are no longer sore?
For some, normal life will resume. They will return to their families and friends, to invest time again in the relationships they have neglected and to repay the support that their loved ones have offered in their pursuit of their dreams.
For the professionals, their minds will already be turning towards the next adventure. Emboldened by their success here, they are already thinking where new to explore and how now to use all they have learned.
But all of them? The furnace of adventure forges powerful bonds. The energy that guided the Red Bull X-Alps athletes and teams to this point will not be contained for long.