Hiking and flying across the Alps from Salzburg to Monaco is the ultimate test of endurance and strategy. When it comes to planning however, no theme is more important than the route itself. On July 2, 2017, 32 world class athletes of 21 nationalities will travel a straight-line distance of 1,138km across 7 different countries, making the new route the hardest and longest one yet.
Race director Christoph Weber says; “Such a wide variety of potential routes comes with a whole new world of strategic possibilities that will push rookies and veterans alike to their very limits; both mentally and physically.”
The race starts at the historic Mozartplatz in Salzburg, Austria. From there, the athletes will run through the city and up the Gaisberg to Turnpoint 1 where they set up their paragliders and embark on their first flight of the contest.
A grueling 157km straight-line journey south through Austria will take them to Turnpoint 2, the Mangart paragliding launch pad on the edge of Triglav National Park in Slovenia. Triglav is the first Slovenian turnpoint to appear in Red Bull X-Alps and is the country’s highest mountain at 2,864m above sea level.
Traveling northwest from Slovenia, the competitors will arrive at Turnpoint 3; Aschau-Chiemsee in Germany. Located at the foot of the Kampenwand in the picturesque municipality of Aschau im Chiemgau, the athletes will decide whether to continue west on foot, or climb upwards and take to the air.
Turnpoint 4 is the second Austrian turnpoint in the race and can be found in the village of Lermoos. Situated in the shadow of the Zugspitze, the almost 3000m mountain connects Austria to Germany and offers the athletes huge flying potential.
Pushing back south through the Alps to Italy, the athletes will find themselves at Turnpoint 5, nestled closely to Lake Garda by Monte Baldo. At this point, the competitors will have successfully passed the halfway mark; but with tired feet, aching muscles and 499km still to go, anything could happen.
Turnpoint 6 lies 251km west at the Matterhorn in southern Switzerland, making it the longest stretch between two consecutive turnpoints in the race. If getting there isn’t hard enough, navigating around one of the highest summits in Europe certainly will be.
In a final push, the hungry competitors will hike and fly the remaining 246km to reach Turnpoint 7 in Peille, southeast France. Finally, the timer will stop, leaving the athletes to make the 2km victory flight over Monaco to a landing float in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, they will touch down in style and celebrate the accomplishment and relief of completing the world’s toughest adventure race.
The new route for Red Bull X-Alps 2017 will be the most demanding in the race’s 15-year history. From now, the athletes have just three months to prepare for the enormous journey that lies ahead. Studying the geography of the route will go a long way, but to emerge victorious will take a whole new caliber of endurance and determination.