It’s the world’s toughest adventure race, but the veterans have some advice

The Red Bull X-Alps 2019 covers a straight line distance of 1138km and the athletes will need to show extraordinary physical and mental endurance if they are to make it to the finish in Monaco. So what have those who have competed before learned from their previous experiences?
Tom De Dorlodot (BEL) stresses the importance of listening to your experience – and your gut. He says: ‘When I’m facing risky conditions, I try to stay true to myself and listen to my feelings. Even though everyone is going for it, I won’t try to push it just because I’m racing. Staying alive is part of the game. What matters more is to enjoy the ride, to give your best and to come back in one piece.’

For Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1), good food is key: ‘I eat around 6,000 calories a day during the race, so good, nutritious food is incredibly important. Sadly, pizza doesn’t count. I tried to go vegan in 2017, which I’m not doing this year, but it’s important to have food that doesn’t use a lot of energy to deliver energy. A big piece of meat, for example, requires a lot of energy to digest and process. The priority is to get energy into your body as efficiently as possible, while still tasting good.’
But what of the mental pressures? Gavin McClurg (USA1) says: ‘A couple days in, you start to find your groove and the anxiety and stress get more under control. I try to spend a few minutes every morning meditating and do it again before every flight just as a means of slowing down. I meditate again just before bed. In this race, slow is fast and rushing leads to mistakes. Focus on what you’ve accomplished and not what’s ahead – that was the best advice I was given. If you can revel in the journey and the awesomeness of being in the moment, the kilometres melt away.’
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