In June the time has finally come and the athletes’ hard training is rewarded! The Red Bull X-Alps is coming to us here in Wagrain-Kleinarl. We’re not just a stopover this year… no, as host of the PROLOGUE in the week prior to the big event we are a fixed part of the toughest adventure race in the world. The pre-week starts in Wagrain-Kleinarl on 17th June, and on 20th June the athletes start their unforgettable adventure in Salzburg. Over 30 athletes from 20 different countries are taking part this year, including 2 women. I’ve been wondering how this event got started and asked the organiser Ulrich Grill.
What is the Red Bull X-Alps?
Ulrich Grill: “The Red Bull X-Alps is actually a combination of a number of sports: trail running, hiking, mountaineering and paragliding, making up an “Adventure Race”. The challenge is, the whole route must be completed hiking or flying. That means, we create a “back to basics“ character – no help, no motorised equipment.“ The 32 athletes must complete the whole route from Salzburg to Monaco on foot or by paraglider and pass via various turnpoints. The route in between is not fixed, so there’s lots of possibilities for all participants to reach the destinations. The mastermind behind the event was the top mountaineer and race pilot Hannes Arch, who died two years ago. Together with Ulrich Grill he created the Red Bull Acro Team. Red Bull X-Alps was born from their two passions, hang gliding and paragliding.
Yet, why choose Salzburg and Monaco as starting and finishing point? “Salzburg offers the option to set off in the city centre, yet at the same time have the first turnpoint, the Gaisberg in view. That’s unique Austria-wide. Apart from that Monaco is the logical end of the Alps, as then there’s only sea. Only Monaco offers a last starting point where you can set off from around 700 m altitude and fly to the sea.”
You’ll find the whole interview with Ulrich Grill here: https://www.wagrain-kleinarl.at/de/magazin/2019/red-bull-x-alps-interview-ulrich-grill
From an athlete’s point of view
I’m really surprised what insights I’ve received and therefore I’m excited about the event mid-June in Wagrain-Kleinarl. How do the participating athletes see the event?
To my pleasure I had the opportunity to ask the top athlete Paul Guschlbauer a few questions such as “How do you create a basic strategy for such a challenging event? What are the most important factors?”
“Nowadays I find it somewhat easier to create a good strategy, as this year I’ll be taking part for the 6th time. Once you’ve prepared all aspects such as team, training and equipment, I think it’s most important to have a strategy that helps you reach your comfort zone as quickly as possible. The race should be fun even when disappointing incidences occur, otherwise you quickly loose your motivation.” I think that’s a good tip, which not only applies to this adventure race, but to life in general.
In preparation for the event, multi-day tours similar to the Red Bull X-Alps help enormously. It’s also important to train a lot, as the athletes make more demands on their body than usual during the competition.
The reward is within reach when, after many days of effort, you start from the last turnpoint in Monaco, 700 m above sea-level, and set off on the final leg towards the sea – hopefully to victory – and to know that you have managed the whole route from Salzburg along the Alps to Monaca under your own steam.
You’ll find the whole interview with Paul Guschlbauer here: in German https://www.wagrain-kleinarl.at/de/magazin/2019/red-bull-x-alps-interview-paul-guschlbauer
I listen to the organiser and the athlete with fascination. Amazing! All the things that have to be considered for such a competition and how much preparation is required to rise to the challenge of this tough adventure. I’ll be crossing my fingers for all the athletes, that everything goes to plan and they reach the destination safe and sound.
photo credits: Vitek Ludvik (Red Bull Content Pool), Honza Zak (Red Bull Content Pool), zoom.at Felix Woelk, Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourismus,