Tanguy Triumphs

French athlete Tanguy Renaud-Goud hikes over 17,000m in 23 hours to reclaim hike and fly world record.

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We already knew he was one of the strongest athletes around. More proof came at the end of April when 26-year-old Tanguy Renaud-Goud took back the hike-and-fly world record by ascending a total of 17,534m in 23 hours in Samoëns, France, beating the previous record by more than 500m.

The height gain is equivalent to almost two times to the top of Mt Everest – from sea level! “After the record, there was a lot of pain in my legs,” laughs Tanguy.

The athlete hiked the 800m ascent to a take-off on Le Criou in the northern French Alps 22 times, flying down each time, beating the previous record of 16,976m set by the British ultra-runner Andy Symonds in 2022. It is the second time Tanguy has taken the record.

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Tanguy during his hike and fly world record in the French Alps. © Tim Rochas

"It is more than expected"

“I'm very lucky and so very happy, it is more than expected,” he tells us. He says the hardest part was getting his hydration and nutrition right – and it nearly went wrong when he got to around 7,000m. “It was difficult to eat and I started to be scared because it's never good when you’re not able to eat.”

In the end he just had to suffer on and would tell himself, “I have no choice! I didn’t think so much about the record,” he adds. “I just took one uphill (step) at a time.”

Tanguy was supported by a group of 12 friends who took turns to set the pace up the mountain and pack and unpack his wing. His stomach issues were ultimately resolved by switching from sweet to savory. “At the beginning we ate only things like bars, things with sugar. But during the night, it was not possible to eat sugar. So I ate potato soup during the night, with a lot of salt.”

"Mentally I was very good until the end”

He adds: “I knew that the end of the 24 hours would be very, very hard. But I think I was prepared for this. I also like a little bit to have pain, so yes, that was not so much a problem!”

To achieve the feat Tanguy averaged 760m of elevation per hour, but in every hour he lost 13 minutes to the transition, including six minutes per flight. That means that in reality his average pace while hiking was 960m per hour! To give some idea of comparison, although longer, 760m was the climb to the top of the Hahnenkamm, the first Turnpoint of the 2023 race – and the first athletes did that in 53 minutes – and they were going fast!

“In the beginning my shape was very good,” Tanguy says. “I thought, I’ve never been in this shape in my life. Even after my moment where I was not so good, I succeeded in keeping a very good pace until it was good again. Mentally I was very good until the end.”

The hike and fly world record is a relatively new development in the sport – kickstarted by Red Bull X-Alps athletes. It began with Florian Ebenbichler, supporter to two-time athlete Pascal Purin, who completed 8,860m in 2014. Two years later Pascal Purin himself completed 9,540m on June 18, 2016, flying in the Stubai Valley, Austria, as part of his training for the 2017 race.

Red Bull X Alps 2023 Tanguy triumphs
Tanguy during the Red Bull X-Alps 2023, he is already thinking about the next edition.© zooom / Christian Lorenz

"My dream will be to enter on the podium"

The biathlete Lukas Hofer, who had to pull out of the 2023 race, then raised the bar in 2019, ascending the Kronplatz, a prior race Turnpoint, ten times to a total of 13,040m. Two years later, Tanguy broke the record, increasing the vertical gain to 13,390m in one day.

Up until this point, athletes have been governed by the rules that forbid night-time flying. That changed in 2022 when British athlete Andy Symonds got permission to fly at night, helping him to increase the record to 16,976m.

For this feat, Tanguy also gained permission to fly at night, which allowed him to push continuously for 23 hours. He says he doesn’t expect the record to last for long. “You know, all records are there to be beaten so for sure someone will beat again, but I don’t know when. The only thing is to have some luck with the weather and with the conditions.”

As for his next plans, he says this year he has his eyes on various projects, some hike and fly races and the paragliding world cup. A passionate big mountain skier, he would also like to ski the north face of the Ober Gabelhorn, near the Matterhorn in June – but for that conditions have to be perfect.

And of course, there is a certain hike and fly race happening in 2025, that he would like to do again. “Yes, my dream will be to enter on the podium. I think there is still lot of work to do, there is still one year to do it but I would like to make a better race and avoid the big mistake I made last time.” We look forward to seeing him there.

Top image © Tim Rochas

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