The Red Bull X-Alps athletes have arrived in Austria and are preparing for the start of the 1,000km hike-and-fly race on Sunday 7 July.
Race mastermind Hannes Arch told a packed press conference in Salzburg that the race had become a truly global event, with athletes from 21 countries competing in this year’s race.
The mood is relaxed and informal among the athletes, who are gathered in a campsite on the edge of the lake in Fuschl am Zee, a small town 20km from the city of Salzburg, making last minute preparations.
After spending the morning completing press conference duties at Red Bull Hangar 7, Chrigel Maurer spent the afternoon flying from the Gaisberg, the 1,287m peak on the outskirts of Salzburg that is the first turn point of the race.
Starting Sunday 7 July at 11.30am in the centre of the city, the 31 athletes will take approximately one hour 20 minutes to climb to launch on the Gaisberg.
Depending on conditions, they will then hope to fly to the first turn point, the 2,995m Dachstein mountain, about 50km in a straight line.
Given good weather, athletes should be able to bag the turn point from the air and move on. However, if they land short and have to walk they will be in for a tough day.
The season’s late snow fall means the normal routes up the mountain – a tough climb using fixed metal rungs and ladders known as via ferrata – are not in summer condition. Athletes have been told they must wear mountain boots, not trainers, if they are on the Dachstein on foot and extra fixed ropes have been installed to help the athletes make the ascent.
Cross Country magazine’s Hugh Miller is acting as Red Bull X-Alps reporter throughout the race. Keep up to date with his video reports on redbullxalps.com/news.
Brad Sander, supporter for Stephan Hasase (USA2) in the Red Bull X-Alps, in the Babumobil explains why he’s backing Babu as well. Interview: Ed Ewing
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