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The 2021 Red Bull X-Alps will be a Race to Mt. Blanc ... and Back!

Press Release / 16.03.2021See All Event Posts Follow Event
At 1,238km this is the longest route yet!
At 1,238km this is the longest route yet! / © zooom/Felix Woelk

The Red Bull X-Alps returns for its tenth edition in 2021 and is set to be the most challenging route in its history. Every edition of the world’s toughest adventure race features a different route but this year is a radical break from the past for the 33 athletes taking part. Instead of making their way from the alpine peaks to the Mediterranean Sea; they will travel a full circle starting in Salzburg and ending in the waters of Zell am See, Austria.

Ulrich Grill, the race organizer, says: “The 10th edition of Red Bull X-Alps is a very extraordinary route. It will be a true adventure and one that athletes and fans will talk about for years to come. It’s the next evolution in Red Bull X-Alps race history.” 

At 1,238km, it’s the longest route in the race’s history, 100km further than 2019. Race director Christoph Weber explains: “It’s a new chapter for the Red Bull X-Alps. The race committee wanted to make the tenth edition of the race one to remember so we decided to break away from the past and design a completely new route; a route where athletes will be geographically closer together. The days when lead athletes enjoyed good conditions at the front while those further back suffered bad weather is less likely as they’ll all be experiencing the same weather. That will add an interesting dynamic to race.”

The Route!

The route will see athletes race across Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy, before finishing back again in Austria via 12 Turnpoints. It’s a straightline distance of 1,238km, the longest to date.  

Once again, the historic Mozartplatz in Salzburg, will host the start of the tenth edition of Red Bull X-

Alps. Athletes run through the city and up the Gaisberg (1,288m) to Turnpoint 1.

From the Gaisberg, a prominent peak overlooking the city, the athletes race to Wagrain - Kleinarl, a holiday town 58km to the south, with breathtaking views of the mountains. The terrain will already be well-known from competing in the Prologue race just a few days prior. 

For the first time the race then heads to the famous alpine resort of Kitzbühel, Tyrol, home to the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill race, the scene of many epic deeds of courage, heroism and glory – values all close to the heart of Red Bull X-Alps athletes and fans. 

Red Bull X-Alps is a challenge for both body and mind. © zooom / Harald Tauderer
       Red Bull X-Alps challenges both body and mind. © zooom/Harald Tauderer 

From there, it’s a short 35km leg north to Germany and Turnpoint 4, Chiemgau - Achental, a picturesque region amidst the northern Alps. 

It’s then approximately 115km south west to Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, following a line that will be familiar to athletes who competed in 2017. Turnpoint 5 is on the Austrian side of the mountain, in the resort of Lermoos in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, the fourth time the resort has hosted a Turnpoint.  

Turnpoint 6 is situated atop the 2,502m summit of Säntis, which lies to the south of Lake Constance (Bodensee) in Switzerland. Athletes then set their compasses for the high mountains of Switzerland and Turnpoint 7, the Fiesch - Aletsch Arena, home to Europe’s longest glacier.

By this stage athletes will have their eyes on the Rhone valley, an aerial superhighway that offers perfect conditions for flying distance – but only when the weather’s good. Athletes will hope it offers them an easy ride into France, otherwise it’s a long hike. 

Turnpoint 8 is the 2,221m high summit Dent d’Oche, above Lake Geneva and Turnpoint 9 is Mont Blanc, the eighth time the iconic mountain has featured in the race. Athletes have to go around both peaks in an anti-clockwise direction. It is at this point where the route gets more interesting. In past years, it would continue in a broadly south-westerly direction towards the Maritime Alps and the Mediterranean. Not this year. Mt. Blanc is the point where athletes turn around and start heading back towards Austria. 

The next Turnpoint is the Swiss peak of Piz Palü, almost 250km to the east. The big distance opens up possibilities for athletes and could see the field diverge as they choose different lines. The options are to go north, following the Rhone Valley which is longer, but possibly offers better flying conditions. Or take a direct bearing east, passing to the north of lakes Maggiore and Como, a line athletes took in the other direction in 2017. It’s shorter, but riskier. 

Athletes then pass the peak of Ortler, 3,905m, the highest mountain in the South Tyrol, as they make their way to Turnpoint 11, Kronplatz. Here athletes have to land and sign a board next to the famous Messner Mountain Museum.

The 12th and final Turnpoint is located at Schmittenhöhe, Austria, which overlooks the resort of Zell am See and the finish line. There may be no Monaco in this year’s race, but the landing float is back, and unlike previous editions – it’s here where the clock stops. Athletes have to reach the float in the lake to end their race, whether by landing or swimming! 

he clock stops when the athletes reach  the float in Lake Zell in Zell am See, Austria. © Faistauer Photography
     The finish is on Lake Zell in Zell am See, Austria. © Faistauer Photography

The race starts with a one day Prologue on June 17th at Wagrain-Kleinarl and the main race begins on Sunday, June 20th. On the start line will be 33 athletes from 17 countries, 30 men and three women, all of whom have passed a gruelling selection process to ensure only the most capable and experienced endurance athletes take part. 

The Red Bull X-Alps is a uniquely spectator friendly event in the current climate. Fans can follow all the action remotely via Live Tracking, which lets users see the race and all its dramas unfold in real time. They can also choose to follow their favorite athlete and see what they experience via cockpit view. Live Tracking is highly addictive! 

Athletes are currently training hard, preparing their minds and bodies for the ordeal ahead. Now that the route has been revealed, they’ll start to switch their focus to studying the different regions. The race demands not only great flying skills but also incredible physical strength and endurance. More than any other year, this new route opens up new possibilities on who will emerge victorious.

Anything can happen … 

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