The strain, the challenge, the commitments – why sign up for the Red Bull X-Alps? These athletes give their honest answer.
Why sign up to the Red Bull X-Alps? It takes an incredible toll physically, mentally and financially. We’ve heard the usual answers – the challenge of a lifetime, the appeal of competing with the greatest. But what’s the real reason? Well, that’s what we asked several athletes from 2017. In the first of two instalments, these athletes give their revealing answers:
“THE AMOUNT OF ADVENTURE PACKED IN TWO WEEKS IS MIND-BOGGLING.”
"It's easy. It's the coolest thing, ever! It's the ultimate race, it's the ultimate adventure. The amount of experiences packed into less than two weeks is mind-boggling. So many things to see, so many emotions and friendships for a life-time. Yes, why sign up again? I get asked this question again and again. The Red Bull X-Alps is a crazy commitment and the pain and dangerous flying is only the smallest part. It’s at the very top of the bucket list but that doesn't mean, you will only want to do it once. It’s addictive."
“IT’S THE PERFECT ADVENTURE.”
"I just like to compete. To move under my own power in nature is great! I also like to have a clear route, but no idea how to go there – so it’s the perfect adventure! For me the Red Bull X-Alps is a very important goal of the year. For this I stay motivated to move on, train my body, the team and the material. With my training I can grow and improve my skills, while the race is a good benchmark to see how efficient it was. Finally, I think without the X-Alps we would not have this nice hike and fly equipment that lot of pilots use today!"
"The question is a difficult one to answer! I think most of the athletes know why it's worth it, but I wonder if any of them put it in words. I for one still cannot seem to come up with an adequate answer. But I think that the most valuable thing about the Red Bull X-Alps is the brilliance of the initial concept of this race. It is so simple that anyone can understand it, even people who know nothing about paragliding or adventure racing. That is why it is one of few paragliding events that enjoys a large public fan base, and just about the only one that people actually love to watch live. Yet it also embodies a true spirit of adventure more than any other organized competition I know of, paragliding or otherwise."
“IT IS NO DIFFERENT FROM A SOLO POLAR EXPEDITION OR AN OCEAN CROSSING.”
"The Red Bull X-Alps creates an alternate world for each competitor. For me, it was less a race than an amazing escape, where I could immerse myself in a separate, pure reality. Every decision I made immediately showed its outcome. I was the only one to blame if it was a mistake, but I could also enjoy the successful outcomes of good decisions. The supporters maintain the connection with the outside, ordinary world by attending to the physical needs of the athletes, allowing each to indulge in the undiluted adventure of traversing the length of the Alps. From the athlete's point of view, it's no different from a solo polar expedition or ocean crossing. Adventure addicts such as myself simply cannot resist taking part; it is what we live for and what makes us happy."
"IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY."
"For me, the Red Bull X-Alps especially means a great opportunity – opportunity to find sponsorships and fly and train professionally at least half the year. Opportunity also to know my physical and mental limits a bit better. And for sure it’s an opportunity to have an unbelievable adventure with the best pilots and athletes from the whole world!"
Photos © zooom / Honza Zak, zooom / Harald Tauderer, zooom / Vitek Ludvik, zooom / Sebastian Marko