The Red Bull X-Alps is the world's toughest adventure race. It's a bold claim – but one it surely deserves. It's difficult to think of another race that demands such a high level of fitness and technical skill – or lasts so long.
The rules are simple. Athletes must race across the Alps, by foot or paraglider via set Turnpoints, usually a straight-line distance of over 1,000km. Over the years, the race has attracted and tested to the limit some of the world's top adventurers. It demands not only expert paragliding skill but extreme endurance. Some athletes will hike over 100km in a day and will cover hundreds of kilometers on foot – and 1000's of meters in altitude – by the time the race is over!
Each team consists of one athlete and one supporter. No technical or outside assistance is allowed. The supporter is just there to help with logistics, strategy, food, medical support and provide psychological assistance. (The role of the supporter is hugely important – they are the unsung heroes of the race.)
Athletes race between the hours of 05:00 to 22:30. Since 2013, athletes have been able to pull a Night Pass that allows them to push-on through the night on foot, normally a mandatory rest period. New in 2015 was the Powertraveller Prologue, which saw athletes compete in a one-day hike and fly battle in the hills outside Salzburg three days before the main race start. It was won by Paul Guschlbauer.
The 2015 race began in Mozartplatz, Salzburg on July 5 2015 with 32 athletes from 18 countries setting off, following a route via 10 Turnpoints in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France. The race ended at midday, July 17. Of the 32 athletes who started, a record 19 made goal, three were left in the race, five were eliminated and five withdrew. It was won for the fourth time in a row by Christian Maurer in 8d 4h 37m.
“The Red Bull X-Alps is the definition of true adventure.” Gavin McClurg (Team USA2).