One of the coolest races in the world is underway in Europe, where the 2015 Red Bull X-Alps is unfolding at a brisk pace. The event, which is now in its seventh year, pits athletes from around the world against one another in a unique format that is unlike any other competition that I am aware of.
The race begins in Salzburg, Austria and requires racers to cross the Alps on their way to the finish line in Monaco. To do that, they’ll trail run and climb to the top of mountains, then deploy their paragliders to cover as much distance as possible before repeating the process again. The route includes ten individual checkpoints that the racers must pass through along the way, but other than that, they are free to choose which ever path they want.
This year there are 32 athletes from 18 countries taking part in the X-Alps. Amongst them is Shrivel Maurer, the three-time defending champ of the race. Maurer is off to a good start once again this year, as he has already won the Salewa Brenta Trophy that is awarded to the first racer to reach the midway point of the race at the fifth checkpoint. He now has 626 km (389 miles) to go to reach Monaco.
For the first time ever, there were two women taking part in the X-Alps, although Yvonne Dathe of Germany was eliminated yesterday after failing to make a time cut-off. That leaves American Dawn Westrum to carry the torch for female competitors moving forward, and I’m sure she’d love to reach the finish line to become the first woman to do just that.
It will still be a few days before the first racers reach the floating finish line on the Mediterranean Sea. You can follow all of the action as it unfolds at the X-Alps official website, which includes live tracking of the current positions of each of the athletes. The video below also serves as a good introduction to the race.
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