Countdown to the The Red Bull X-Alps, Training Anyone?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what the physical training looks like for what is known as the “toughest adventure race on Earth”, the Red Bull X-Alps. As it says on the X-Alps website: It’s a bold claim – but one it surely deserves. It’s difficult to think of another race that demands such a high level of fitness and technical skill – or lasts so long. The combination of trekking and paragliding is one of the most exciting hybrids to emerge from the ongoing convergence of mountain sports.

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Unscrambling Insurance- Are you covered?

If you go in hard paragliding, hangliding, speedflying or skydiving are you covered? Many, many people find this a very murky subject. Traveling abroad? What about medivac? What if you need a heli rescue? Repatriation to your home country for care? This article should help you out.

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Behind the scenes- Preparing for the Red Bull X-Alps

This post is about some of the random but critical things that go into the lead-up to the event. Obviously you fly as much as you can and when you aren’t flying you’re pounding your body. I’m not going to talk about that aspect as that should be pretty obvious, and the physical training I do would be five blog posts just to touch the surface and probably of very little use for 99.9% of pilots so we’ll leave that a mystery. And lets face it, you would have to be pretty twisted to want to do it! What I thought might be interesting is all the side stuff that is so critical when it comes to having a successful campaign.

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Pounding gear- A look at what we carried in Alaska

The Alaska Traverse took 37 days to complete. Bashing for days through dense alders, slipping on talus and hurtling down glaciers, and living in the dirt for nearly 800 kilometers put our gear through the test. Here’s what worked, what didn’t, and where we went wrong.

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The Alaska Traverse- Thoughts on Expeditions

Doing it unsupported was appealing, but daunting. There isn’t a single village or store on the entire route- some 480 miles as the crow flies, from the north end of the Lake Clark National Park across the Kichatna spires, Foraker and Denali and on to Highway 1, which marks the end of the Alaska range and the beginning of the Wrangells. I estimated it would take at least 4- 6 weeks to complete the route (based on nothing but pure optimism), and given I can only carry about 5 days of food (due to space and weight), that meant hunting.

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Killing Complacency- Making sure the luck jar doesn’t run dry

And then I pounded. My second reserve didn’t have time to deploy, it was laid out right beside me in a unfolded line. I bounced a bit and thankfully the dirt was really soft. My body made a horrible thudding noise but I was certainly alive. I got up slowly and realized with some amazement that I seemed to be unhurt. I called Cody on the radio and said the same. “NO YOU AREN’T OK, that’s the adrenaline, you are definitely not ok, lay back down!” But I was in fact ok. Soreness would kick in as the adrenaline wore off, but I’d done nothing more than bruises. To both my ego and my body.

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Bivvy Flying- What’s on your back?

This post is a follow up to an earlier gear post I wrote about the kit Will Gadd and I carried on the Rockies Traverse, “the things we carried” and hopefully answers many questions I’ve been getting about what’s critical and what’s not. I actually haven’t changed much but it has been refined and I’ve been able to cut more than 10 pounds of weight which is considerable.

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Chinks in the Armor- The Red Bull X-Alps Reality

Every morning I head out and my head says no but my body says yes. The sweating starts, the cursing follows but the body just does the work. “Shut the fuck up head!” I keep saying, but it keeps grunting relentlessly. “I’ll shut up when you take a break!” But I don’t feel like I can afford a break. Just a few more weeks and that gun goes off in Salzburg and there won’t be any more time to prepare.

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A life uncomplicated

I answered immediately: “Fuck No!” Training for what is billed as the hardest adventure race on Earth has consumed my every move and thought for the last 7 months, and I’m sure will only get exponentially worse until the race starts July 5th. And I mean CONSUMED. I eat; I train; I eat and eat and eat; train and train and train; make lists that have no end; and sleep whenever possible. This is my life. Unless you have competed in this race, or are a rookie like me this year I promise you can’t possibly imagine what goes into this kind of campaign.

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6 Months and Counting to the Red Bull X-Alps

Niviuk pilot Gavin McClurg is having an amazing year. He is one of the 2015 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for his ground-breaking vol-biv across the Canadian Rockies with the legend mountain athlete Will Gadd, and he’s been selected to compete in this years edition of the hardest adventure race on Earth, the Red Bull X-Alps. We sat down with Gavin recently to find out how his training is going, here’s what he had to say.

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