The birth and essence of the world’s toughest adventure race
The concept for Red Bull X-Alps was inspired by Toni Bender’s north to south crossing of the Alps in 1999. His hiking and paragliding adventure became the subject of a documentary that caught the eye of renowned Austrian pilot and adventurer Hannes Arch. This inspired Arch and his good friend Ulrich Grill to ask themselves if such an incredible feat could be made into a competition for the world's best adventure athletes – but across the length of the Alps.
"I thought it would be cool to base a paragliding competition on this format and build a basic concept for it – that’s how the idea was born!” Arch once explained. “Together with Red Bull, we developed the idea until it became what it is today; an unparalleled test of human endurance in the form of an adventure race.” adds Grill.
Since then, the race has gone from strength to strength. Today, competitors cover over 1,100km of alpine terrain, sometimes racing through the night to gain an advantage. Although each year only a handful of the 30 or so competitors make the finish, the race only gets more competitive as the international athletes go head to head in the battle for glory. Tragically Hannes Arch died in a helicopter crash in 2016.