Red Bull X-Alps is regarded as the world's most spectacular adventure race and after the traditional two-year gap, it's back for 2011. Here's the key information, letter-by-letter.
Red Bull X-Alps is an 864km adventure and paragliding race traversing the length of the European Alps from Austria to Monaco for 30 selected international athletes. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish as quickly as possible, travelling only by paraglider or on foot. Teams will start in Salzburg and the athlete who reaches the designated spot in Monaco first is the winner of the race.
Thirty athletes will take their chances in Red Bull X-Alps 2011, with the defending champion from 2009, Chrigel Maurer, returning to attempt to reclaim the crown he won as a rookie two years ago. Maurer reached the goal in less than ten days – a record time for the event, but he is up against fierce competition this year from the likes of Thomas de Dorlodot, but twice winner and 2009 runner-up, Alex Hofer has been forced out with injury. While Europe fields the most competitors, there are also athletes flying in from North and South America, Asia and Africa. Check out this video about ahlete selection...
Every athlete has to carry a GPS device which means you can follow their progress as they make their way south from Salzburg to Monaco by visiting the Red Bull X-Alps site and clicking the Live Timing link. You can also keep up on the Red Bull X-Alps Facebook page, the Twitter feed, RSS and email newsletter,
The only modes of transport available to the competitors are to paraglide between the mountains and to traverse the route on foot to climb back up to the next takeoff point. The race itself typically takes around 12 to 16 days to complete and the athletes must navigate past eight Alpine turnpoints in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France, taking in such famous peaks as the Matterhorn, the Grossglockner and Mont Banc. Find out more about the Red BUll X-Alps route here.
The athletes do have an ace up their sleeve in the form of their ground support. That's a hand-picked helper who's in charge of carrying the food supplies, extra equipment and crucial information to help the athlete decide on their day-to-day strategy. The supporter is also responsible for ensuring the athletes update their blogs and videos. 'S' also stands for Suunto, the makers of this year's official Red Bull X-Alps limited edition watch.