Red Bull X-Alps is the world's toughest adventure race. It's a bold claim, but one it surely deserves. It's difficult to think of another race that demands such a high level of fitness and technical skill - or one that lasts so long.
The rules are simple. Athletes must race across the Alps, by foot or paraglider, traveling a straight-line distance of over 1,000km. It demands not only expert paragliding skills but extreme endurance. Some athletes hike over 100km in a day and gain 1000's of meters in altitude! Their every move is monitored by advanced Live Tracking technology and broadcast to an audience of millions.
Over the years, the race has attracted some of the world's top adventurers and pushed them to their very limits. With constantly changing weather conditions, tactical planning is as important as the extreme endurance required to participate. For this reason, each athlete has a supporter to help with strategy, nutrition and everything in between. The role of the supporter is hugely important – they truly are the unsung heroes of the race.
In 2017, the longest route in the event’s 14-year history saw 31 athletes from 20 nations pass 7 turnpoints in 7 different countries, including for the first time; Slovenia.
On July 2, the athletes set off from the city of Salzburg to race a straight-line distance of 1,138km across the Alps to Monaco. To do so, they had to traverse Europe’s largest mountain range four times between the northern and southern fringes.
The 2017 race saw Swiss flying ace Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) celebrate his fifth consecutive victory. He completed the race in 10 days, 23 hours and 23 minutes despite the heavy rain, strong winds, thunderstorms and the sweltering heat of the Italian plains.
Rookie Benoît Outters (FRA4) came in 2nd, finishing less than two hours behind Maurer. With Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) claiming 3rd just 5km from goal, only two athletes made the goal of Monaco in what proved to be the hardest edition of Red Bull X-Alps.
Before the main event, the one-day Leatherman Prologue took place in the Salzburger Land.
The top three finishers, Sebastian Huber (GER1), Aaron Durogati (ITA1) and Benoît Outters (FRA4) each won an additional Ledlenser Night Pass, allowing them to race once through the mandatory rest period of the main race.
Red Bull X-Alps will return for its ninth edition in the summer of 2019.