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The Dolomites Hosts the World’s Hardest Relay Race

Picture of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor
Updated: 11 September 2017
Combining four brutal sports, in a variety of brutal environments, the Red Bull Dolomitenmann is the toughest relay race sport has to offer.

Held in the Austrian mountains, the Red Bull Dolomitenmann combines paragliding, mountain biking, running and wildwater kayaking, with extreme athletes battling it out against one another to prove who comes out on top.

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The event, now in its 30th year, sees teams take on a unique challenge. The race kicks off with the runners going from Lienz main square up to Kühbodentörl, 2,441 metres above sea level. The baton is then passed onto the paragliders, who must tackle two flights. The first stretch takes them from Kühbodentörl to Moosalm, before a short run to the next take off point, where they then glide down to the Dolomiten Stadium as quickly as possible.

The third leg sees the mountain bikers battle 1,600 metres of ascent – with parts steep enough to force them to carry their bikes – over a 27km course to the Hochsteinkreuz and back to Leisach. The final leg of the race sees the teams’ kayakers face a seven-metre jump into the Drava River, before tackling a partly uphill course and bringing it home in a sprint finish.

The event attracted 40,000 spectators assembled across the Austrian part of the famous European mountain range. The race started in the late 1980s after former professional skier Werner Grissmann had the idea of creating “the toughest team contest under the sun”. Today Grissmann remains the race organiser, with 130 teams lining up at the start in 2017, as opposed to the 51 that tackled the first ever event in 1988.

The Pure Encapsulations team won this year’s event with a time of three hours, 50 minutes and 57 seconds.

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