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Hiking and Paragliding Collide in Incredible Race Across the Alps

Picture of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor
Updated: 18 July 2017
Now in its eighth year, the Red Bull X-Alps tasks entrants with crossing Europe’s most famous mountain range by land and air.

The Red Bull X-Alps is a brutal competition that combines paragliding with adventurism. The race starts in Salzburg, Austria, and finishes in Monaco, with athletes tasked with crossing the Alps by land or air – if they’re not paragliding then they’re on their feet. Along the way, contestants need to hit various ‘turnpoints’, which are locations they must pass through and receive official signatures to prove it.

Jesse Williams’ preparations in Salzburg
Jesse Williams’ preparations in Salzburg | © Red Bull Content Pool

The race saw 20 different nationalities represented across the 31 teams and this year’s race had turnpoints in seven different countries, leading contestants all across central Europe. If measured using a straight line the race covers 1,138km (707 miles), but obviously the course isn’t that simple.

Eventually the race was won by Christian Maurer, who finished the race with a time of 10 days 23 hours 23 minutes 18 seconds, actually covering 2,271.5km (1,411 miles) in total. Altogether, Maurer spent 96.8 hours on foot, covering 535.3km (333 miles), and spent roughly half that time (45 hours) in the air but managed to cover over three times the distance, flying 1,736.2km (1,079 miles).

2017 Race route:

Start: Salzburg, Austria; Height: 424m

Turnpoint 1: Gaisberg, Austria; Height: 1,287m

Turnpoint 2: Triglav, Slovenia; Height: 2,864m

Turnpoint 3: Aschau – Chiemsee, Germany; Height: 615m

Turnpoint 4: Lermoos Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, Austria; Height: 2,962m

Turnpoint 5: Monte Baldo, Italy; Height: 2,218m

Turnpoint 6: Matterhorn, Switzerland; Height: 4,478m

Turnpoint 7: Peille, France; Height: 600m

Finish: Monaco; Height: 0m

Gaspard Petiot at the Triglav massiv, Slovenia
Gaspard Petiot at the Triglav massiv, Slovenia | © Red Bull Content Pool
Gaspard Petiot on Grubigstein, Austria
Gaspard Petiot on Grubigstein, Austria | © Red Bull Content Pool
Stanislav Mayer and Jiri Dlask in Garzeno, Italy
Stanislav Mayer and Jiri Dlask in Garzeno, Italy | © Red Bull Content Pool
Sebastian Huber and Pascal Purin perform in Dolomiti di Brenta
Sebastian Huber and Pascal Purin perform in Dolomiti di Brenta | © Red Bull Content Pool
Christian Maurer flies above Lake Garda, Italy
Christian Maurer flies above Lake Garda, Italy | © Red Bull Content Pool
Duncan Kotze competes in Salzburg/Austria
Duncan Kotze competes in Salzburg/Austria | © Red Bull Content Pool
Participant flies in Mangart, Slovenia
Participant flies in Mangart, Slovenia | © Red Bull Content Pool
Sebastian Huber hikes in Salzburg, Austria
Sebastian Huber hikes in Salzburg, Austria | © Red Bull Content Pool
Gaspard Patiot lands in Lermoos, Austria
Gaspard Patiot lands in Lermoos, Austria | © Red Bull Content Pool