The exhaustion and the elation
Today will go down in Red Bull X-Alps history. The simple fact that six teams completed their thousand kilometre journey on a single day is cause for celebration enough. That so many challenged race winner Chrigel Maurer is incredible. That it provided the most closely-fought and exciting finish was beyond all expectations.
The emotions evident on the Peille launch today were testament to all that this race is.
From Huber's parents, their pride in what Sebastian Huber has accomplished mixed with the love and concern that every parent has for their child. Through the anguish of Paul Guschlbauer: the knowledge of just what could have been visibly present in the near-tears he shed on arrival, mixed with the bittersweet memory of his incredible rise, and fall, and rise again.
Antoine Girard's boldness - he'd flown his last flight with a damaged paraglider to steal fourth place at the last possible moment from his fellow Frenchman - and his willingness to commit all to the race, knowing that this same equipment damage would mean that his landing at Peille would draw blood.
The complete and utter exhaustion of Gaspard Petiot. Despite the knee problems that had been dogging him for the entire race (he hadn't expected to last more than a couple of days) he pushed through the pain to run the final kilometres at breakneck pace, only to see Girard fly over his head, and to arrive at Peille drenched with sweat and barely able to talk.
Aaron Durogati was the last to finish today. His competitiveness had driven him to gamble his good position for the chance of a podium place. His arrival to rapturous cheering from the fans was the only compensation for his bold attempt to win in style.
Blood, sweat, pain, and tears. Each team today lived both triumph and defeat, and the emotions that run with it are strong. The Red Bull X-Alps is an adventure race that is a rising tide that has lifted all: athletes, teams, equipment, and fans alike.