After holding themselves together during their struggles, athletes can finally let it out
Junming Song (CHN) achieved some incredible performances. Pulling his Night Pass early in the race, he beat elimination by hiking and running a 74km ultra-marathon. The 45-year-old, two-time national champion almost made it to Turnpoint 6, Fiesch in the Aletsch Arena after just seven days. Unfortunately, he was eliminated at 06:00 and left an emotional message on his Instagram page: “We will have to stop here, but with no regrets. It’s been a crazy and amazing journey. To land safely with hugs from friends and family is the happiest ending for me.”
There were more emotional statements from athletes finishing in Zell am See. Maxime Pinot (FRA1) finished in second place behind Damien Lacaze (FRA2) and said that it had been a joy to finally arrive. “It was a tough race,” he said. “I’m happy to be here and thankful for my team. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it, for sure.” He was clearly exhausted and said: “I need to rest.”
Not usually one to be lost for words, Pál Takats (HUN) struggled to believe what he had achieved. Leading the race on day one, and remaining part of the action throughout, Pál is a top performer – and a fan favourite. This is his third time in the Red Bull X-Alps, but his first time into goal. He said: “It was always a dream to make goal – I missed it twice – but it’s still hard to grasp that I make it now. I'm kinda speechless. It's one of the strongest emotions in my paragliding career.”
Race Reporter and Veteran, Gavin McClurg said: “Imagine the emotions of these pilots on their last glide after the battles of seven days. That moment when you know you’ve got it. You’ve made it. A bliss that there are no words for.”
There were emotions of a different kind for Simon Oberrauner (AUT1). Completing his fourth edition of the race, Simon decided to use his GPS track to send a message. He drew a love heart in the sky over Zell am See for his girlfriend, Anna. She was the first one he turned to upon landing and they shared a long embrace.
With an incredible 18 athletes expected into goal today, there will be many more emotional stories being told.
Top image © zooom / Christian Lorenz