The world’s toughest adventure race
The Red Bull X-Alps is hailed as the “world’s toughest adventure race” and is held every two years. Competitors paraglide and hike across the European Alps, from Salzburg to Monaco. The 2017 edition, featuring 32 competitors from around the world, begins 2 July and paratothepoeple’s Che Golus has been selected to compete for Australia.
This ultimate adventure race is no walk in the park. Athletes are each allowed one official supporter to help with everything from weather reports to logistics. Team Australia consists of Che Golus (athlete) and Oli Delprado (official supporter).
Read more about the race, get the latest news and meet the other athletes at the Red Bull X-Alps official website.
Why the Red Bull X-Alps?
“I am a naturally competitive person. I competed in mountain biking in my teens and early 20’s before burning out and swearing never to compete again. After taking up paragliding, it wasn’t long before I entered my first competition in Manilla, and I was hooked.
It was when I took a break from competing to do a Vol Biv across the European Alps in 2015 that I thought a lot about the Red Bull X-Alps. I said a number of times that I wouldn’t want to do such a trip under racing conditions; I guess that actually planted the seed. The challenge of doing it quickly, linking together a few big flights on good days and the added benefits of support and carrying less gear became very appealing. I started wondering how I would fare against other pilots. And I’m always up for something new. This type of competition is very different from the XC racing comps I am familiar with in paragliding, adding a completely new dimension and a lot of freedom to the comp environment.
Another great motivator was my late friend Lloyd Pennicuik. He was an amazing fellow, always positive and supportive. He had had a tough life, facing more than his fair share of challenges, yet somehow kept a great perspective on life and the world. Lloyd was extremely encouraging towards me and my flying for the years that I knew him. There was always something earthly and genuine about his advice and friendship.
Lloyd competed in the X-Alps himself, twice (2007 and 2009). He was set to compete again in 2013 but pulled out due to illness. Whether he knew at the time it was cancer, I don’t know. Lloyd passed away in 2014 and I miss him dearly. I remember walking with him in the X-Alps 2007, along the road just outside Villeneuve in Switzerland. He hadn’t seen his supporter for a while, so we offered to cook him dinner and hang out. Someone had already reached Monaco and the race was about to end, but Lloydy was still keen to stay ahead of the guy behind him. As I walked with him, I asked Lloyd how hard it was to do the race, and he replied something along the lines of, “Its not that bad, you just keep on walking”. He had a great way of simplifying things. I thought about Lloyd a lot while crossing the Alps in 2015 and would like to do him proud in 2017.”
– Che Golus