Gavin McClurg (USA1) poses for a portrait during the Red Bull X-Alps preparations in Wagrain, Austria on June 10, 2019

GavinMcClurg

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USA1
us
  • Nationality: United States
  • Date of birth: 21 April 1972
  • Profession: Adventurer, Dad, Pilot, CEO and Founder, Offshore Odysseys
  • Supporter: Reavis Sutphin-Gray
  • Glider: Niviuk Peak 5
  • Sponsors: Patagonia, Salewa, KORTEL, GARMIN, Niviuk

When and why did you begin paragliding?I was sailing around the world and my girlfriend at the time handed me a wing and showed me how to groundhandle- this was 2004. I took a couple tandems and thought it was painfully boring. But one day I got to take the controls, and when I learned you could use a wing to fly distance and land somewhere where you had no idea, I was totally hooked. I've been a junky ever since.

Do you paraglide competitively? List rankings and events.1st Place US Nationals 2015, 2nd place Pre-PWC Colombia 2014, 9th place British Open 2019. I compete in the PWC once or twice a year if I have time and US events in non X-Alps years.

What is your mountaineering experience?I was a guide/instructor for Outward Bound in the Northwest of the United States for several years where I instructed rock climbing and raft/kayak guiding. I have mountaineered in the Andes (Bolivia and Peru), run many class 5-6 rivers in North and Central America and have done vol-biv expeditions across the Canadian Rockies ("The Rockies Traverse" in 2014 with Will Gadd, a Red Bull Production), the Sierra Mountains of California ("Surfing the Sierras"), the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and Wyoming ("500 Miles to Nowhere") and recently (2016) completed a full paragliding/foot traverse of the Alaska Range from east to west, nearly 800 kms (37 days to complete), which was documented by Red Bull for their Explorers Series.

What is your paragliding experience?I did a bivvy trip from Walt's Point in the Sierra range of Nevada/California in 2012 to the Oregon Border (18 days to complete). I crossed the Canadian Rockies to the US border with Will Gadd in 2014, the longest series of connected flights that I believe still to this day have ever been flown (18 days to complete). I crossed the full length of the Alaska Range (500 miles) in 2016 and finished the last 1/3rd of that route solo (37 days to complete). Until two weeks ago held the foot launch distance record in North America (set in 2013- 240 miles from my home town of Sun Valley). I competed in the 2015 X-Alps (8th place- Monaco), the 2017 X-Alps (14th place), and the 2019 X-Alps (12th place).

What is your adventure racing / endurance sport experience?2015, 2017, 2019 Red Bull X-Alps. I sailed around the world for 13 years, completing nearly 2 full circumnavigations. Completed many long passages solo.

What does your typical training week consist of?My training regimen for the X-Alps has become quite well-known. Because I'm older and short- I gotta train hard! In both the 2015 and 2017 races I felt awesome at the end and would have really liked to just keep going! Not so much in 2019:) I don't like heat!

What are your best and worst adventure / flying moments?Best: Flying the full length of the Alaskan Range and finishing solo; crossing the Canadian Rockies with Will Gadd; being the first American to make goal in the Red Bull X-Alps in 2015; and every time I launch. Worst: Getting blown over the back and landing in a river in the Dominican Republic and walking out over a series of massive waterfalls; nearly getting killed in the Red Bull X-Alps 2015; getting caught in a gust-front in the Wallis of Switzerland; and battling SUPER high winds in Alaska on a very dicey day, and battling the heat and stability on the last three days of the 2019 X-Alps.

What are the sporting moments you are most proud of?All of my X-Alps races, crossing the Alaska Range, becoming a Patagonia ambassador, and making the US Ski Team.

Have you competed in Red Bull X-Alps before and if so, when?2015, 2017, 2019.

What appeals to you about Red Bull X-Alps?The risk, the strategy, the teamwork, the anticipation, the hard work, the physical challenge, and incredible adventure. The competition is everything awesome wrapped up into one event! I've been fortunate to have done a lot of crazy and wonderful things but the Red Bull X-Alps was the highlight of my life in 2015 and it just keeps getting better. In 2017 we didn't make it which was a huge disappointment but I felt strong at the end and made a fraction of the mistakes we made in 2015. We felt like the 2019 was our best race yet. For non-Europeans, the lack of local knowledge is a real handicap, but it's the greatest adventure on earth and I just can't give it up!

What will be your strategy during the race?The same as it has been- have a blast, laugh a lot, be TOTALLY prepared and fit and punch it as hard as we can, but be smart and safe.

Why do you think you will make it to the finish?You can't think about the finish. You just have to go hard, be smart, make good decisions, keep putting one foot in front of the other and give it your absolute best. If it all works out, you'll get there.

What scares you the most about the event?The race can be absurdly dangerous. Training, good decision making and understanding thoroughly that it's a just a race- it's not worth getting injured or worse. I understand the risks but proper training mitigates all dumb decisions, which I try very hard not to make.

Have you ever done anything of this magnitude before?Alaska Traverse was harder! And it was 37 days so this is just a warm up.

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