Day 3 was action packed! From big flights to sore limbs, the adventure continues with Christian Maurer (SUI1) reaching Turnpoint 3 - Aschau Chiemsee in first place and had his sights on Lermoos Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, Turnpoint 4.
He spiralled down from a clear blue sky and landed next to the sign-in board where he was greeted by crowds of cheering fans. He started early this morning on the southern side of the Alps, and had hiked and flown for 12 hours, landing shortly before 7pm.
Meanwhile, behind him the French athletes Gaspard Petiot (FRA2) and Nelson de Freyman (FRA3) are enjoying the race of their lives, both completing epic flights over the main alpine chain.
For Petiot, his day began with an 1,300m ascent up Mangart’s northern flanks with Toma Coconea (ROU) to bag Triglav, Turnpoint 2. They arrived with time to spare before the thermals started. While Coconea signed t-shirts and agreed to fans’ requests for selfies, Petiot was swapping base layers and towelling himself off. "I feel like a tennis player", he joked.
And the mental pressure was not far off a centre court either. As he agonised at the take-off over whether to fly, he confided to feeling the pressure with everyone watching. Both he and Coconea were playing the waiting game hoping for clouds to clear. In the end, they could wait no longer and launched into the mist. Unfortunately for Coconea, his flight did not last so long and his time at the front is most likely now over.
Throughout the day, most of the pack cleared the turnpoint. Of particular note was Aaron Durogati’s (ITA) rise through the rankings. Yesterday it looked as though he might be forced to retire with a painful knee, but then he got into the air and also showed what he is capable of. He was lying in fifth place with still an hour of flying left in the day, an heroic comeback from the back of the field.
Unfortunately it was not such a happy ending for Stephan Gruber (AUT2) who has retired with severe pain in both ankles. "I can’t walk and I can’t fly with them", he said.
Meanwhile at the back, Claudio Heidel Schemberger (ARG) must take the award for dogged determination. He spent a very uncomfortable and cold night in the mountains and was close to hypothermia and in a bad state by the time his supporter found him at 2am.
But he’s determined not to be eliminated when the axeman comes down tomorrow and has pulled his Ledlenser Night Pass to fight on through the night – even though he only got three hours sleep last night.
This morning has seen the first elimination of the race. David Liano Gonzalez (MEX) was officially cut from the back at 6am. From now until the end of the race one team will be cut every 48 hours.