Red Bull X-Alps, started by Hannes Arch in 2003, is an endurance challenge on air and land like no other.
Some of this year’s contenders gave The Red Bulletin their thoughts on the event and their preparations to traverse the Alps by paraglider and on foot…
“I put my son on my shoulders and run up the mountain”
HONZA REJMÁNEK, 36, USA. Rejmánek junior is two-and-a-half years old and weighs in at just over 12kg when fully dressed, which is almost exactly the same weight as the equipment that Rejmánek senior and his rivals have to drag around the mountains during Red Bull X-Alps.
“How do I prepare? Run a few ultra-marathons”
STEVE NASH, 48, UK. Red Bull X-Alps athletes can run more than 40 miles a day in the mountains for 10 days or more. If the weather’s bad, it could end up being more like 65 miles every day. If it’s OK, then they might only have to do 25 to 30 miles a day, and paraglide more than they run. As long as they’re on the right flying strategy, that is.
“Unspeakable agony every step of the way”
PAWEŁ FARON, 37, Poland. The combination of hard landings immediately followed by long runs takes its toll. For Faron, it meant 40 days of enforced rest when he should have been training. Yet sacrifices made aren’t only physical: “It’s really difficult when you get back home to your family, having been away for weeks on end, and your little daughter wriggles out of your arms and runs off to her mother.”
“I’m a weekend warrior”
PIERRE CARTER, 44, South Africa. Fitting in training around a full-time job is a serious commitment. Carter manages to run more than 140 miles a week and puts in up to 80 hours of paragliding a month. “My experts say to me, ‘If in doubt, it’s best to line up at the start under- rather than over-prepared.” What about food? “Lots of carbs. Pasta, potatoes.” Expectations? “I’m lacking experience in the Alps. Having said that, I’d like to finish somewhere in the top 10.”
“My greatest fear? Falling asleep in mid-air”
MICHAEL GEBERT, 31, Germany (pictured, top). The dangers of putting in days of mountain running and a lack of sleep are obvious. “When you’re paragliding, your pulse drops and your brain sends a signal: nod off. You begin to fly in circles if the thermal’s good, and you close your eyes... I tell myself stories or make myself laugh. If that doesn’t help, you’ve got to pinch yourself or scream.”
“You have to land where you can – without breaking a leg”
PAUL GUSCHLBAUER, 27, Austria. What should the participants watch out for? “The wind in the valleys can be dangerous. That, and storms. One skill you really have to have is the ability to land anywhere in the mountains without doing yourself a serious injury.”
Read the rest of this great article, and more stuff like it from the world of Red Bull, in the latest edition of The Red Bulletin magazine.
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