Red Bull X-Alps

Team USA3

Mitch Riley

  • Nationality: United States
  • Date of birth: 29. May. 1984
  • Profession: Paragliding Instructor
  • Supporter: Thomas Alfred
  • Glider: UP XAlps
  • Sponsors:
  • Mitch Riley might be a rookie, but he’s certainly no stranger to competition. With an impressive portfolio of contest victories, including two US national championships, Riley has hiked and flown all around the world.
  • When and why did you begin paragliding?
    I went on a tandem flight in 1992, when I was just 8 years old. I knew that paragliding would be a big part of my life. In 2007 I had the maturity, money and time to commit to the sport. I am absolutely hooked and have designed my life so I can fly as much as possible.
  • Do you paraglide competitively? List rankings and events.
    Yes, I find paragliding competitions rewarding, educational and fun. 1st 2015 US National Championship, 1st 2015 Inter-Mountain Wide Open, 2nd 2015 Owens Valley XC Classic, 5th 2015 Rat Race, 1st 2013 Sports Class US National Championship, 9th 2013 Nepal Open.
  • What is your mountaineering experience?
    I have been playing in the mountains since a very young age. I have extensive experience in ski mountaineering, mountaineering and climbing.
  • What is your paragliding experience?
    I've been flying for 10 years and an instructor for 5 years. In the first 5 years I flew for over 100 hours a year and in the last 5 over 300 hours per year. I have flown extensively in the Himalaya, Alps and Rocky mountains. I enjoy chasing big distance but I find deep, scenic commiting flights the most memorable and rewarding. I have done long vol-biv trips all over the world.
  • What is your adventure racing / endurance sport experience?
    I started racing in triathlon and XC running from 12 years old. Now I really enjoy long runs, 40k+, deep into the mountains. I placed 22nd in the 2014 Standhope 60km, and 20th in the 2015 Standhope 60km. The Standhope 60k is a footrace through the iconic Pioneer Mountains of Idaho, following rugged mountain trails for 60km and 3500m or ascent/decent.
  • What does your typical training week consist of?
    I train for for 18-28 hours a week. This includes 3-5 hours of strength training, and the rest is hike and fly, running, biking and whatever else I can dream up.
  • What are your best and worst adventure/flying moments?
    Best: Hanging out on top of a mountain in the Wrangle Mountains of Alaska with my good friend Wil Brown. We had flown there over a few days and were hundreds of miles from anyone, in a completely stunning place. The only exit was flying our paragliders well. Worst: On a mountain top in Western Nepal. Trying, unsuccessfuly, to save Premek Hulek's life after he sustained massive injuries while we were on a vol biv crossings of Nepal.
  • What are the sporting moments you are most proud of?
    Winning the 2015 US National Championships, Completing my first ultra marathon. Progression makes me really proud, so some milestones in my progression have a firm place in my memory. The first time I flew 100k was in the Sierra Mountains, Owens Valley, it was a booming day and I was completely in the zone for the 6 hours of flying. There are many moments like that that make me proud.
  • When and how did you first hear about the Red Bull X-Alps?
    I picked up a paragliding magazine while I was in my beginner course and it had an article about Red Bull X-Alps preparation. I was hooked. It's been a motivating factor in my life since.
  • Have you competed in the Red Bull X-Alps before and if so, when?
  • What appeals to you about the Red Bull X-Alps?
    The Red Bull X-Alps is appealing to me for a number of reasons. First, the training to get my body mind and flying to top condition has been and will continue to be transformative. Second, the tactics to fly and walk through mountains while the clock is ticking are incredibly interesting and appealing. Third, I feel that the Red Bull X-Alps represents the pinnacle of our sport and I want that, bad.
  • What will be your strategy during the race?
    1. Stay healthy, keep the body working well by making good decisions, eating well, and taking rest when I can. 2. Flying slow is better then walking fast, so be patient, and topland when necessary. 3. Keep cool. I want to have fun with the race, so keeping stress down and moral up will be a priority. Thanks for this one, Boxy!
  • On average, over a third of the Red Bull X-Alps participants fail to finish the event. Why do you think you will make it?
    I spent the summer of 2015 in the Alps studying the routes. My body and fitness will be in the top possible condition come race day. I'm insanely motivated to excel at the race.
  • What scares you the most about the event?
    At the start line I'll be excited, not scared. I've got the skills and the preparation, bring it on.
  • Have you ever done anything of this magnitude before?