Monday, July 8, 2013

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Race On...

Athletes ran through the old quarter of the city before crossing the river Salzach and climbing to the top of the Gaisberg, 1,287m where thousands of cheering spectators had gathered to watch them take to the skies.
Toma Coconea (ROM), famed for his endurance, was first to the top, in 1hr 10, to be greeted by huge cheers from his army of supporters who have travelled with him. But the race committee found he had deviated from the set route and he therefore will not be awarded the Gaisberg trophy for being the first to the summit.
That will now go to Thomas Hofbauer (AUT3). In third place was Michal Krysta (CZE). Race favorite Christian Maurer (SUI) was fourth to arrive on the summit but the first to unfurl his glider and take off.
Sunday afternoon, the athletes attempted to fly as much ground as possible to the next turnpoint, the Dachstein, 2,995m, which lies 55km straight-line distance from Salzburg. Weather conditions were favorable for flying with a moderate north-easterly wind and most athletes made good ground and were predicted to pass the turnpoint on Monday morning.
But conditions on the Gaisberg made take-off difficult, especially for Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN1). The 53-year-old suffered a collapsed wing shortly after take-off and brushed into trees. Fortunately, he emerged unscathed and with a new glider, was able to rejoin the race.
For what happens next in the drama, go to Red Bull Mobile Live Tracking, which lets you follow the athletes in real time on redbullxalps.com. And it could be about to get very interesting... As of last night, two athletes had pulled a Night Pass which lets them hike through the night. They were Christian Maurer (SUI1) and Thomas Hofbauer (AUT3). Will it give the Swiss the lead he needs?

The Red Bull X-Alps 2013 will be the sixth edition of the world's toughest adventure race. It starts on July 7th and will see 31 athletes from 21 countries battling over 1,000km across the Alps from Salzburg to Monaco via 10 mandatory turnpoints, in the fastest time possible. Every kilometer must be covered either on foot or flown by paraglider.
It's a formidable undertaking and takes place in one of most breathtaking yet also unforgiving environments. Each team consists of one athlete and up to two supporters. No technical or outside assistance is allowed. Athletes can race between the hours of 05:00 to 22:30. But in a new twist for 2013 that promises to make the race even more exciting, athletes can each pull one 'Night Pass' that will allow them to push-on through the night on foot.
The race requires expert paragliding experience and a very high level of endurance fitness — it's not uncommon for athletes to hike up to 100km in a day. The 2011 edition was won by Christian Maurer (SUI) in 11 days, 4 hours and 22 minutes. The 2013 edition comes on the ten-year anniversary of the first Red Bull X-Alps held in 2003.

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