New start in Kitzbühel - Kirchberg, via ferrata in the Sexten Dolomites and 15 Turnpoints – it’s going to be epic.
The route of Red Bull X-Alps 2023 is finally revealed and there are quite a few surprises and challenges. There’s a new start. For the first time since 2007 the race starts in a different location to Salzburg. It will begin in the Austrian town of Kitzbühel - Kirchberg, famous for its downhill ski race, the Hahnenkamm.
There’s also a mandatory via ferrata in the Sexten Dolomites. The 3 Zinnen (Tre Cime) Turnpoint is situated atop the peak of Paternkofel (2,740m) which can only be reached by a spectacular via ferrata climb.
At 1,223km, the route is a similar length to 2021 so the difficulty has not increased there. But it is still an epic challenge. The route follows an anticlockwise out-and-back loop finishing again in the Austrian resort of Zell am See.
The race starts in Kitzbühel - Kirchberg – also the scene for the one-day Prologue. Athletes race 900m to the top of the Hahnenkamm, then head southeast to Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria, the host of the 2019 and 2021 Prologues before turning northwest to Chiemgau Achental, Germany.
From here the route heads west across southern Germany and Switzerland, passing the Turnpoints of Lermoos in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, then to Piz Buin Switzerland (3km cylinder), then Fiesch in the Aletsch Arena. Athletes then cross the mighty Aletsch glacier – the longest in Europe – to tag the next Turnpoints of Frutigen and the peak of Niesen (2,362m), another mountain they have to run up. This is now the home territory for Chrigel Maurer,Patrick von Känel and rookie Sepp Inniger. Athletes then have to cross the Bernese Alps again to reach Mont Blanc.
After crossing the mountain athletes must stop at the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard to take a selfie and send that to the race committee. It’s then a fairly open 440km dash eastwards across northern Italy, with three mountain Turnpoints – Dufourspitze, (5km cylinder), Cima Tosa and 3 Zinnen (Tre Cime). Cima Tosa is not a cylinder – the Turnpoint is situated on the ground by the Refugio de Brentei and athletes also have to take a photo here to prove their position.
At 3 Zinnen athletes must follow a via ferrata to the summit of Paternkofel (2,740m) along historic First World War tunnels. It’s been 10 years since a via ferrata featured on the route – previously athletes had to climb one on the Dachstein. The popular climbing destination of Sexten in the Italian Dolomites only 8km away is the next Turnpoint. From here the remaining athletes cross the Alps a final time to reach the Turnpoint of Schmittenhöhe, Austria. It’s then just a short glide to the floating finish line in the beautiful waters of Zell am See.
Says race co-founder Ulrich Grill: “We are really excited to present this year’s route which offers many new challenges for athletes. It will require a lot of strategic thinking – as well as incredible endurance. It’s also a route that celebrates 20 years of Red Bull X-Alps.”
Patrick von Känel (SUI2) said: “I’m really excited by this year’s route which presents new challenges for athletes. I'm excited by the start in Kitzbühel as there are no airspace restrictions there. It’s also great that it passes through the Frutigen area which is where I’m from so hopefully I should see some familiar faces willing me on. I’m training hard and can’t wait for the race to begin.”
The race starts on June 11th, 2023, and is preceded by a one-day Prologue on June 8th that takes place in the mountains surrounding the resort of Kitzbühel - Kirchberg. Athletes have to hike and fly a 58.6km course around seven Turnpoints – almost double the distance of the 2021 Prologue. A shortened course will be unveiled in case of bad weather.
Click here for all the details about the new route!