Final preparations for the Red Bull Dolomitenmann are in full swing, with a record 111 teams participating in a race where only those in top mental and physical shape can challenge for glory.
With so many teams this year, the event’s 23rd edition, safety issues were paramount. "The Dolomitenmann family is growing from year to year,” says organiser Werner Grissmann. “We would be happy to start more teams, but it would be too dangerous.”
For 2010, there are some new features: there is no GPS allowed for the paragliding flight to create a more demanding route, for example.
Exciting duels are expected. Last year, the Kolland Top Sports team, including world-class mountain runner Jonathan Wyatt, secured the title. That might just change this year, with the newly-crowned mountain bike marathon world champion Harald Hudetz Alban Lakata with Wildwasserkanute, and mountain runner Markus Kröll and paraglider Wendelin Ortner in the Red Bull team.
In fact, the density of talent in this year's starting field is remarkably high. Among the other athletes are mountain runner Daniel Mesotitsch (biathlon silver at the Olympics in Vancouver 2010), Neja Žnidarčič of the Slovenian Kayak National Team and mountain biker Benjamin Karl (snowboard silver in Vancouver), plus the quartet of mountain runner Gerrit Glomser (Glocknerkönig 2008), paraglider Chrigel Maurer (Red Bull X-Alps winner), international kayaker Theo Devard and mountain biker Wolfgang Fasching (conqueror of the Seven Summits).
The first two Chinese in the Red Bull Dolomitenmann will also make their debut this year. Li Haiqing and Liu Changzhong are pairing up with two Austrians, who will have more mountain experience than the Chinese pair, in whose home province the tallest mountain is only 600m high!
An adrenaline rush for the fans is also guaranteed on Saturday with an air display by Hannes Arch, the runner-up in the 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship and a former champ himself. Arch also founded another extreme mountain event, Red Bull X-Alps, a paragliding marathon across the alps.
The party animal in East Tyrol will not be forgotten, either. Tonight, the main square in Lienz will rock to the Ö3-Warm-Up Party. The main act will be held on Saturday evening with the awards ceremony, followed by a gig from Don Juan und die Anderen (‘Don Juan and the Others’), a top covers band.