The new route is the talk of the town!
So the route is revealed! Who will it favor? Will it stop Chrigel from racing ahead? Will we still see so many athletes reaching Monaco? So many questions.
So we spoke to some of the athletes and organisers after the route announcement. This is their take.
“I love it, it’s really cool,” says Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1). “I love crossing the Alps and we have four obvious crossings so that’s great. I’m looking forward to it.”
Aaron Durogati (ITA) also welcomed the new route: “It’s really interesting, it’s something new, and the big distances between Turnpoints give many options.”
And the athlete reactions on social were equally positive: “Probably the most exciting route so far! So looking forward to this one!” Tom de Dorlodot (BEL) posted.
“Red Bull X-Alps is more than hike & flight, it's a fullstack project management challenge!” posted Claudio Heidel Schemberger (ARG).
“Excellent choice more options, new routes, Slovenia awesome!!!! Really looking forward to this one,” wrote Ferdy van Schelven (NED).
Creating fewer Turnpoints to allow for greater route options was exactly the intention of race director Christoph Weber.
“This makes it all about strategy,” he says. “Because the Turnpoints have so much distance in between them you can take very different lines from one to another!”
“It makes it much more tactical,” says Cross Country magazine’s Ed Ewing, who’ll be covering the race for us again this year again.
“We'll see people take different routes - very much depending on what the weather and the forecast says. This has the real potential to pull the whole field apart.”
In short, there’s no obvious superhighway like the Pinzgau or Rhone valley like we’ve seen in previous years that naturally attracts all the athletes like bees to honey. This could affect four-time winner Chrigel Maurer’s ability to pull ahead for example, something he’s always been able to achieve when the flying’s good. One section that offers up several options is the first leg to Slovenia and back.
"There are no obvious 'motorways' on this north to south route,” adds Ewing. "All the main flying routes go east-west, so this is a big challenge.”
Another interesting section will be the route’s largest leg between TP5 of Monte Baldo to the Matterhorn, TP6, which lies a straight line distance of 251km to the west.
“I don’t like Switzerland so much, maybe because it’s always won by someone from Switzerland, but also flying in Switzerland is very tricky,” adds Paul.
As Aaron explained it to us, athletes will face a decision of whether to cross the Adamello, pick up the Valtellina valley system and then head into the high mountains of Switzerland; or stay south and hop along the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, or even take a tiger line straight across.
“Anything is possible,” he says. There is even the possibility that athletes could chose to run this section.
“It could be a strategic decision to hike on the flat, it’s totally an option if it’s raining,” Paul says.
At 1,138km, it’s the longest Red Bull X-Alps on record. It could still be a fast race if the weather’s good but if it’s bad, this could be a very long and brutal race indeed. Whatever the case, it promises to be an exciting one.
To learn more about the route, the athletes and the rules, head over to our 'Race' section!