The new route has been revealed for the 2017 Red Bull X-Alps – and it will be the longest and hardest in the event’s 14-year history.
Racing a straight-line distance of 1,138km from Salzburg to Monaco, 32 world class athletes from 21 countries will hike and fly via seven turnpoints in seven different countries – including Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and for the first time, Slovenia. This new development will make the world’s toughest adventure more challenging and more unpredictable than previous years.
The new Slovenian turnpoint will lead the participants to race along Europe’s largest mountain range and traverse it four times between the northern and southern fringes. The race will also feature three turnpoints fewer than in 2015. Race director Christoph Weber said: “The distances between the turnpoints will be longer than in the last seven editions. 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.
A gruelling 157km straight-line journey south through Austria will take them to Turnpoint 2, the Mangart paragliding launch on the edge of Triglav National Park in Slovenia. Triglav is the first Slovenian turnpoint to appear in the race and is the country’s highest mountain at 2,864m above sea level. Ulrich Grill, organiser of Red Bull X-Alps explained: “The new terrain around the Triglav Turnpoint will require some innovative new strategies that could make all the difference in the early stages of the race.”
Travelling northwest from Slovenia, the competitors will traverse the Austrian Alps for a second time to reach 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 3,000m 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 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. The region is also a key strategic point in the race, as the athletes set off on the last quarter of their journey.
In a final push, the competitors will battle it out over 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 the warm, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Here, they will touch down in style on a landing float to celebrate the accomplishment and relief of completing the world’s toughest adventure race.
Athletes now have three months to prepare for the enormous journey that lies ahead. The race starts on 2 July 2017.