Last updated on June 7th, 2023 at 02:29 PM
Red Bull X-Alps returns on Thursday, June 8 with 32 athletes from 18 countries making their final preparations before descending on the Austrian town of Kitzbühel for the 20th-anniversary start of the world’s toughest adventure race.
It is famous for its downhill ski race, the Hahnenkamm, but the Austrian ski area of Kitzbühel-Kirchberg is preparing to host an even more legendary hike and fly race this week – the Red Bull X-Alps.
The 2023 route is a circular loop around the Alps that begins in Kitzbühel-Kirchberg, passes the highest mountains of Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy, and finishes in Zell am See.
Seventeen veterans and 15 rookies like seven-time champion Chrigel Maurer will tackle the 1,223km route, hiking, paragliding – and climbing with a via ferrata at the Drei Zinnen Turnpoint new this year.
The physical demands are renowned as athletes usually hike around 3,000 vertical metres a day, equivalent to four ascents of Mount Everest from sea level, with approximately half of their race hours spent on foot, burning up to 6,000 calories a day – equivalent to seven large pizzas.
All eyes will be on Maurer (SUI1) to see whether he can maintain his dominance in the face of steep competition such as Maxime Pinot (FRA1), who is on fire at the moment having just won the Bornes To Fly event.
Maurer, 40, revealed: “My strength lies in flying, in feeling where and when I’m able to fly. We keep the logistics manageable and, if possible, plan for different options to stay flexible enough to be able to do the right thing at the right moment! The Prologue looks quite long, but it depends on the weather. It’s the same tactical game for all.”
Tanguy Renaud-Goud (FRA5) and Patrick von Känel (SUI2) also made the Bornes To Fly podium, while Laurie Genovese (FRA3), Damien Lacaze (FRA2), Michal Gierlach (POL) and Sepp Inniger (SUI3) will star too.
Genovese is one of four women taking part, while Austrian Elisabeth Egger is taking part for the first time. The 28-year-old said: “There are some big mountain ranges to cross, so it will be quite a challenge. Maybe the 2023 edition will be the first time a female competitor makes goal.”
Race co-founder Ulrich Grill said: “This year is not only going to be a historic edition, it also promises to be one of the most exciting. The route will challenge athletes physically and mentally to the max. We have a new start location in Kitzbühel – Kirchberg. There are 15 Turnpoints scattered across some of the highest mountains of the Alps.”
Among the first athletes to arrive at the lakeside campsite of Schwarzsee for the 11th edition were veterans Tom de Dorlodot (BEL) and Toma Coconea (ROU) who, between them, have done the race 18 times.
Fans can follow the race thanks to state-of-the-art Live Tracking including a 3D pilots view starting with a Prologue in Kirchberg on Thursday, June 8, 11 am (CEST) with the main race beginning on Sunday, June 11 at 11.30 am through to June 23 with sun, rain and thunderstorms forecast initially.
Follow the 2023 Red Bull X-Alps live tracking HERE.