Tom De Dorlodot has done more Red Bull X-Alps than everyone other than Toma Coconea (who has done them all!). The Belgian explorer extraordinaire started at the tender age of 21 in the 2007 race and hasn’t missed one since. He is currently training for the 2023 event, which will be his 9th! We got together recently to dive into his campaigns just after he and his family moved into their new home on the island of Faial in the Azores. We rewind the clock to a time where teams didn’t have GPS, athletes used paper maps (in the air!) to navigate, and a Russian athlete carried over 20 kg on his back! As we wander through Tom’s highs (getting to Monaco in 2019…) and lows (getting evacuated in 2015…) of his campaigns we tap into all kinds of great advice for pilots dealing with risk (who doesn’t?), family (ditto!), and living life to its fullest. Enjoy!
TranscriptSpeaker 1 (0s): Hi there everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase mam. We're going roll with these X Out stories for a while. The one with Kreel was very well received and such an exiles junkie. It's really fun to hear these stories and behind the scenes stuff that most people have never heard of and trying to dig into each of the years with some of these athletes who have done it a bunch of times and find out what, what went on and how things went down, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
And our guest this week is Tom De Dorlodot, other than Toma, he's done it more than anyone. He's done it eight times and he's in for this year and his ninth. So we go way back to 2007. And it only been around since 2003. So he just missed the first three and find out about what it was like when they used to use paper maps and had no tech and no GPS and much different communications. And it was in a lot of ways, much more of an adventure and not so much a race where the athletes would wait for one another and do it together and carry a lot more gear.
And that didn't really change big time until Kriegel came on in the scene in 2009 and really started pushing the lightweight thing. So this is really fun to go back that far and listen to Tom's stories. And along the way, as we go through each of his, each of his races, we get into some really good advice that he has and just some of the takeaways and some of the things he's seen and the way he thinks about safety and how things are changing now that he has a couple kids.
And yeah, I was fascinated to talk to him, just to find out how he stays motivated to do these over and over and over again is, it's quite a big thing. These campaigns. Please reach out if you're digging these, let me know. And there's a whole bunch more people I can sit down with, but you know, x a is very special to me, and if the general audience doesn't find these as intriguing, we can skip around and do some more normal shows too. But we've got a bunch of folks lined up for more of these, and if you like 'em, let us know.
Appreciate it. So without further delay, please enjoy this exiles talk and this walk and Fly down memory lane with Hana Dorlodot. Cheers. Tom, what a pleasure, man to see you here. You're, you're a lot more clean shaving than I am, but you're in your, your new place
Speaker 2 (2m 46s): And
Speaker 1 (2m 47s): Is it Fal? Is that how you say it? In the Azores? I visited there by boat many years ago, but
Speaker 2 (2m 52s): Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we are, we are now in Fal. We just moved into our new house, so congratulations. Yeah, it's a pleasure to talk to you too, man.
Speaker 3 (3m 1s): Yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's been a while, but I'm, I'm excited for your family in a new place. And are you both, I know you speak everything, but do you speak Portuguese as well? Is that just part of the repertoire?
Speaker 2 (3m 13s): Man, we are, yeah. We, we are learning to speak at the moment. It's still pretty basic, but we speak Spanish so we can kinda of understand, you know, what they're saying. But the funny thing is that my son Jack is only, he's, he's about years and school he's to and speaks. He's gonna teach, think it's when they're so fast and, but yeah, we understand most of it and we have really good friends there. Also, iag lading community in the Zas has welcoming.
Thank great, so it's every a year pilot and, and, and are flying site of 500, you five from my place. So I can take over there in the morning, fly on the east faces of the island and then land in the, in the backyard. So it's, it's beautiful. Really enjoying it. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (4m 8s): And will you be there for the most part up until the race? Is that where you'll be doing most of your training or, I know you're heading off for the Alps I think tomorrow, but is that sound like that was more of a work trip? But is is, is this where, is this home kinda year round?
Speaker 2 (4m 23s): Yes, this is gonna be home year round. I, I think it's, I mean, it's not the perfect place to, it's pretty smalls and Fly. It's distance in terms of physical training. This is perfect because, you know, there are trails everywhere. People do a lot of running and hiking there. So I can train, I can cross the island, you know, there's a, a trail every, the a blue where you can run distances up to five, a hundred K.
So we have trails everywhere. So for just to go out and and run, it's perfect in the weather. It's pretty, pretty good all year long, you know, so it's never really cold. But I, for in the, because this is the place to be, I guess probably in, in May, early May I'll move there with my van and live in the van for like a month before the race.
Speaker 3 (5m 30s): I, I love the food there. I, as I'm hearing you talk about the Azores, I always think about the sardines crazy about their sardines delicious. And it's such a culture that's based around the ocean, which I also love. Most of our time was spent on Sal Miguel and where a lot of the pilots live and what a community too. They, I mean they have that big bash every August and it's, it's a fantastic place. I'm jealous.
Speaker 2 (5m 55s): Yeah. And kinda, kinda, it feels a little bit like 30 years ago. Like it's, it's, you know, everyone knows each other. It's, it's a small community in our, in our, there's like so knows and so it's, it's really, and, and there are local farmers. Everything grows on this island, you know, so we, we have a project of growing some, some, some fruits and vegetables and stuff. And you go down to the sea, you, you can go spear or you fire is also, cause they, they cows there grassfed all and stuff.
So it's, it's, yeah, quality of life being out in the ocean and we that it was a good for our, you know, basically that's, that's we moved and i a so I, it's a for to and you and, and, and, you know, just take some time for me to be with my family and quiet and yeah. So we, we really enjoy, I mean, I'll be able to tell you about it in a few months.
I've only been there for, for just a few months, but it's beautiful.
Speaker 3 (7m 12s): Congratulations. That feels good to have a place. Well, hey, we're gonna take A, Walk down memory lane, Tom with your ex house. We just did this with Kriegel last week. And I'm gonna do this with, with more of you who have done a bunch of these races. Gonna sit down with Hanson next week and do this. So what I wanted to start with before we get into your, your first, which was 2007, no one's done it more except Toma. So you're, you're next in line with eight. This will be your ninth.
I think I have that right and Yep. But before we get into that 2007 race and, and hear your stories of, of each of your events, which I know is gonna be taxing on your memory with having done eight of them. But I wanted to see, you know, usually this time of year is, you know, when I'm starting, I'm not doing this one, so I'm not doing it this year, but usually this time of year I'm all well into the training pretty hard. And I've been just kind of thinking this year, you know, not doing it how difficult it would be to motivate to, you know, get that fit again.
You know, I, I think some people like Kriegel and those, they just kind of stay fit because they're doing so much hike and Fly racing, but you know, you're spending a lot of time with your family and sailing and the search projects and a lot of other things. And so with the, with the race on the horizon and it being your ninth, do you have any trouble with getting ready or getting motivated? Do you worry about much going into it from the physical side or is it you've done it so many times you'll just, you know, you'll be ready?
Speaker 2 (8m 45s): I think it's, it's a really question and that's interesting. I has, you know, it's, it's every two years, you know, and it, it feels like every two years I start to train again, you know, a year before the event. And then after the race I take some off and I don't do anything. And it also helps my body to recover. You know, I, I never got injured in training or anything like that, you know, and I don't feel like I still feel pretty fresh after so many years doing it.
And I, I do think that it's also cause I take a little bit of time to just do nothing. Yeah. But I mean, professional athletes will you, it's better to the and stuff, but I'm, you know, it's and or more the flying or go another adventures and change your a little bit and then come back and start again. But in terms of motivation and it's, it's difficult. I, I would say of course some days you're super is and a friend to go train with.
So, so you're, you're in the good you train days also, you're not motivated and you just wanna stay inside or do something. And that's where discipline comes Andre routine. I've, I've of understood to that out. I to just a and my, have a professional trainer and, and work on my discipline and my routine. It's like, okay, every day, wake up, go for your run, do your meters, you know, go train, go flying and work on the, and so I, my trainings with, I say on Wednesday I, with Thursday I go running with my wife on Friday I do something else.
I'm trying to keep, you know, busy and motivated. But having said that, you know, some of the races where I came the strongest physically and really well trained were maybe not my best races. So, you know, it's not only about being fit and strong and physically prepared and trained, it's also in your head and the strategy and your team. And it's so many things that you have to work on. So some, some athletes I think maybe focused too much on training when actually there's a lots and so yeah, we'll see this year I approach it a bit differently.
I think I, you know, are you are also, you have, you know, also a, a daughter and, and you, you know, like it's, for me, I wanna spend time with, I, I work on, I do things, you know, I'm, I'm Aman I'm, I'm a hundred percent on exs. Exs is part of my life and part of my career. But this is, I'm not, I don't wake up in the morning only thinking about ubs, you know, even if I love the adventure and I love the thing in the race and stuff, so I'm gonna be training and I'm gonna myself as I can it, but this is not for me the most important thing.
I should put it that way. This way maybe. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (11m 58s): How have the optics going into, you know, say the 2023 race changed because of your family and, and children compared to in the past? Has it, has it just mellowed your view? Has it, has it changed how you approach it? I mean, I know in the last race, you, you, you're always, I think you, you make very good decisions and you're, you've always been more, I think, conservative than, than some have with your eye on the long game. You know, if you, if you get hurt, you make a bunch, you know, you don't have the long game.
And so I, you know, in this last race, there was definitely a lot of really hairy weather and, and you chose to, you know, sit it out sometimes or walk down or, you know, it was just beyond your, your comfort level. From what I understand, that was way behind you at that point. I was just, you know, getting the messages. But is that, is that because of the family or is that just who you are?
Speaker 2 (12m 52s): No, I think there's two things. I think the first thing is that my approach to competition has changed. I like to, I like to compete, you know, because it's fun and I like the adventure and I, and I'm the adventure. But if I really think about it, like to just go there to try to someone and be the strongest somehow, I dunno why it doesn't make sense anymore. You know, I, I I guess it's, it's an thing which I understand and, and you know, people, the, in the, in the, it's, I, we all approach races with different state of mindset.
I used to be very competitive. I used to compete and I, I used to always compare myself to other pilots. And I used to to be the fastest in the in and, and this now I realize, okay, well it's, but at of, you know, and the me it's, it doesn't matter. I actually, I don't give a shit, you know? And so it, this is, this is the thing. It's, it's, it's interesting because I, I wake up in the morning in the middle of the race and I wanna push myself and I flags and I enjoy and stuff, but I don't really, you know, I don't really care if I'm in front or behind someone.
You know, there's always gonna be a winner. There's always gonna be a loser. But does it really matter so much? And I think it's, it's, we have to think about this because the whole society works like this. You know? It's, it's all about competition. Who's in the biggest, in the biggest? Does it really, you know, is it, is it more important than, you know, have beautiful experiences or, you know, have a nice conversation with, with one of the other athletes or meet some people in the way or discover new areas or learn things about yourself?
You know? So for me it changed in a way in the last years. I cannot tell you exactly when, but, but I can feel that now I'm not, you know, thing anymore of, to, you know, the best in the, so that's one thing and well, sure the risk, it's dangerous, man, this race. And we've seen people doing crazy things, you know, and, and I've, I've seen it with my eyes, some guys almost themselves in the, and it's just in the ranking.
And I'm like, why would you do that? Like, why would you take off in the middle of a thunderstorm when you can just sit here and leave another day, you know, and Fly and you know, and it's, so we've seen accidents, we've seen people getting hurt, but we also, we also seen very and very shitty situation where they just save themselves, you know, in the very last moment because they were lucky and they have a lot of experience obviously. But, but I'm like, does it really, you know, is it really interesting or don't that, that I have kids and we ha I feel that I'm responsible for them and I wanna be there for them.
They, so I had my, my shares had accidents. Durings know I've, I've this, but now I think it differently and think, okay, risks management is important. I, and you know, last time I think maybe I could have gained a few places in the ranking, maybe getting to the top 10 if I had risk more. But then, okay, oh, I'm, I'm number instead of being number great. I, so for me it's more about telling a good story and sharing it with friends and learning things that I can share later on.
And you know, just learn to be a better pilot and learn to be a, and also to this, to the people, to, to, pilots are a lot of people, red Bull athletes, the, the leagues have a responsibly somehow to, to show the way and, and, and show that you can be, you know, you can, you can do big flights, but you can do it safely. You can prepare yourself to do those flights. And that sometimes we should ego, you know, Hey, it easy, what is a good time?
You, let's forget about kilometers a little bit. Let's forget about the speed, you know, let's just enjoy flying, you know, and, and, and that's important, especially now in the world where it's all about socials and you know, the records. It's interesting a little and it differently. But that, that's my point of view. And, and I'm, I'm happy to see that some guys like Argo and, and in are really competitiveness is inspiring everyone.
I'm not, I'm, I don't wanna criticize. I'm just, I'm, I'm in another place at this stage of my life, I think. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (18m 11s): Sounds like a pretty good place. Well, let's go to a completely different place. Cause this, you've been at this a while, 2007. First, how old were you? And, and remind everybody of the route cuz you, you didn't start that year where we start now and certainly didn't end it where we end now. So take us back and, and as I said before, the top of the show, what we'd love to hear is, you know, and this is gonna be taxing on your memory, but you know, a really high point.
Something that you remember that was just a beautiful experience and maybe the opposite of that, which often when you look back, the bad ones are, are high points too. You know, the mistakes are great things. But maybe something that you remember from that race that was, that was tough.
Speaker 2 (18m 56s): Yeah, I mean, this, this was one of my, yeah, one of the of was to take part in the, and I was, I just turned 20 years old, so I was, I was pretty young. Wow. Wow. And I remember when I, when I sed, I, I'm just gonna subscribe and, you know, just to be there and to let them know that I exist. And so maybe in two years they'll take me, you know, they'll, but I didn't really expect to, to, and so, but, but it was fine to me.
Like I was competing in the, in, in the bian championship. I was doing nice flights and I, and I had a good level and stuff, but you know, it was, I had been looking, ID been watching the DVDs of the 2000, 2005, you know, races. And I, and those guys were mys, you know, and I was super young. So there, I receive an email one day and saying, Hey Tom, you're selected for the Bull. Well, ok, that's something.
And so I had no sponsors the time I, everything photography with, with a paramo. And on Saturday morning I would go from door to door knocking at the doors and say, Hey, I took a photo of your house, would you like to buy it? And that's how I was making my pocket if I can. And, and, and so I, I raised a little bit of money with that, but I was on such a, I think, I think I did the all race with 1005 euros or something like that.
My god, I was sleeping in my car. No, I didn't have a and that was, it was super small, like open in the back and I was getting wet every time. It would, it would rain, you know, and, and my supporter, I I kinda told my supporter, can you come and help me? You know, just have to bring me once a day or something, you know, the rest of the day you can in the, you can swimming, you do, you know, I, and so my supporter would say goodbye in the morning and I, he would go and visit villages and towns and go on, on these little cultural trip, you know, and in the evening would come and give.
So I remember, I remember being in the line at the supermarket to buy food. I was, I was standing like I would make, I would be in the line to buy an ice cream in Italy and wait for 15 minutes so that it would be my turn to get my ice cream, you know, because I, I had no food. I lost kilograms on that. Oh, 10. You should see the photos. It's crazy. I remember Michelle Federer took a photo of me and I looked like, so one day in the Mirano Valley blacked cause I didn food in the field and, and and was not coming.
And, and so, but you have think I, me, we had no GPSs at the time. We had no smartphones, we had paper maps. We didn't know shit about the arts. Like we, we were really like trying to find our ways, but we would stop villages and say, Hey, how do we go to the top of that mountain and then maybe someone take us. I remember traveling was one of my best super pilots in the, and, and we, and we, one day we got lost in the above za we, and worked the afternoon.
And in the afternoon came back the point where we five hours and we started raining, it raining and we open an umbrella and we had one umbrella for the two of us. So we were the two of us, two red Bull athletes, like a Rebelly athletes sitting just, you know, below the umbrella. And some days my supporter would, didn't me in the evening, I had to knock at doors and sleep at you knows day and I sleep in your, in your house.
So that was, that was my first experience. But it went, it went really good. Like can you imagine that the first day of the Red League starts in, because we didn't really know, we were not prepared. We had my support came with a McDonald menu for in the evening and say, Hey Tom here I found this McDonald's french fries burger. And yeah, we, we were just so inexperienced. I mean now I can say it, you know, it's, it's been 20 years almost.
But I didn't have, I didn't have at the time, I don't think I had enough experience to, to take a race like this. But it was, it was pretty much the same for most of the field. I mean, those guys, like, I remember that year the, the Russian guy with a backpack kilograms. And I remember in the race director Cox and Steve said, okay, that, that's a good joke, but can you, your and the Russian said this is, you know, like, oh and oh God and I, but you do have anything like lighter.
And he had a gradient SR seven was maybe seven kilograms. And ay valley that was 12 or 13 kilograms, he was given s backpack, A Walk year. And his point I with, you know, high performance weights or biggie and it, it, it was his, the, the, he like, were people like that in 2007, you know, so, so it was a different game.
It was a different race. We would fly with sleeping with stove to cook in the mountains when, you know, sometimes someone mountain day without waiting next day be better weather. So it was a different approach. And then from there it only went faster and faster and, but was was, well i in the for old, so for, so you know, inexperience it good, I didn need sleep much you, because at the time it 27 we didn have to night and, and that was, that was crazy.
But, and but the race,
Speaker 3 (25m 33s): You started at the Stein, right? And then didn't you go down to the marm la you went down to Italy and then where
Speaker 2 (25m 40s): Yeah, then back up to switch. And I don't exactly remember, but, but we had, yeah, I think at the time was like fours or something. It was so much easier. Yeah. And some people would go south and some people would go north and you, you would never see them, you know, like it was it, the distances between the athletes were, but yeah, we went, we went to Mamta, remember with SPR Lee going to Mamta was protection, like extremely light. And I remember when he prepared his thing, he went and the smallest rescue parachute like it'ss, small extra, extra small that if he had to, it would've his back for sure.
He had no protection. And it's just when they rescue shoot. Yeah, it's here. It was like really super small and, and we were using like uner helmets, like we had bicycle helmets, you know, extremely. You wouldn't. And and no one gave a shit about it. We were all selling prototypes and, and gliders that didn't even exist on the market, you know, so it's, it's, it's good. It changed, you know, and now it's a lot safer and you know, the organization, everything is a lot more organized and, but yeah, we went to Mata and I remember like the weather was, was crazy.
We, we flew quite fast, but still it was taking a lot more days. We, I think that lasted like 13 or something. And sadly I had an accidents, I was getting to Tolo and my collapsed and I crashed. I was full speed bar very close to the ground, but the glider collapsed and I broke my, my hand and I wanted to continue. I said to the organization, yeah, it's, you know, I have just a and Fly it decision and it was good to, to go.
So, and, and from there I never stopped. I went,
Speaker 3 (27m 52s): Yeah, and you've had
Speaker 2 (27m 53s): All the
Speaker 3 (27m 54s): Get we'll get to these, you've had a couple other injuries with thats related, but okay, so that was great start to, I remember, I remember that was Nate's, that was Nate's first and only Xop in 2007. His supporter was his, his wife and their, I think, I think Ripley was two years old. And, and Nate's dad, that was, they had, they had a camper van that they rented. And Ripley the daughter hated Nate's dad. They didn't like each other at all.
And and she would, you know, he would call her at some point, you know, sometime during the race and say, Hey, you know, can I, can you bring me a sandwich? And and his wife would go, Nate, we're at the pool, you know, we, we'll see you tonight. And, and then every night to find him, she would have to call Red Bull headquarters and find out where he was. Cause like you said, they didn't have GPS and they didn't have the tracking just totally,
Speaker 2 (28m 50s): We give the name of a village and say, and say, I'm waiting at the church of this village, you know, and of course we had, we had no extra batteries, you know, the phones were ran off, you know, and I mean it was good that other teams were around and, and it was a lot more, I mean, it's still the case. I think teams are still helping each other a lot. But at the time it was really like, you, you should to count to on on, because die in the side of the were wouldd and say, do you water?
Do you need food and stuff? And but after a while you wouldn't see anymore anyone, you know, like people would sit here and there and being lost. And it was a, it was a bit messy, but very interesting and way an adventure
Speaker 3 (29m 39s): Seemed like back then. I mean, it, it seemed hit
Speaker 2 (29m 42s): A lot more than, and, and, and, you know. Yeah. And at the time I was, I was really short on money, you know. And so I remember when I talked to, it was my first, from, from Gradient, they say, Hey, we wanna support you. And, and so was in just in between twos. And so I thought, well, you know, for the Excels because it's, it's, I'm, I'm, my harness is gonna be and stuff. I'm, I'm, you know, I should a glider, but for the rest of the year it's the, so I felt I'm just take bigger and I'm, she's just gonna take ballas with me.
And so here I was. 'cause you know, I couldn't afford to have gliders. So, so here I was, I had a, had those bags to, you know, like the, the shower that you, you, you, the a black bag with water and it's a shower, like a camp shower basically. I had one of those in my harness in my back when I was flying and, and was so during the put and more water and, and still I light on the taking time on in the wind was blowing super strong.
And I'm like, shit, I'm, I'm here. I need some ballasts. I'm, I'm starting to fill my, my harness with bit of, and inside and then a, a few stones, I, I put a few stones my really should never do. And I took flying backwards cause my was a bit too big, you know? Oh. And I was looking down at, and I was thinking, ok, I'm, I'm gonna be pilot flies backward, above, above cause the wind is maybe gonna break my or something.
So I pushed the as as I could and slowly, slowly, slowly I started to distance. But it really take, it took ages to get out. You know, I was super high, but it took ages to escape from this place. And yeah, it was very scary. And, and it was funny at the same time. And when I, when I arrived in the end of the race, daughter was way for, so I've, I smaller isn't
Speaker 3 (32m 2s): Tom, isn't that the one that, isn't that the race, that Vincent spr that was that amazing footage of him being launched with a rope? Was that, was that 2007, remember on the dark day was really windy and somebody held, held him with a rope and he, you know, until he got away from him and
Speaker 2 (32m 19s): Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, yeah, I think, I think it's, yeah, it took up from the top. Yeah, yeah. We all went down a little bit and took off a little bit lower and I think, yeah, that's, that's what happened. Yeah. That was sketchy. And if you, if you look at the footage of those years, so sketchy, first of all, like the gliders were prototypes. They were, they were sketchy gliders, you know, like, and, and, and those guys, they're just, you know, on the edge all the time and pushing, pushing. Actually I was there with Vin when Vincent hit the cable. I think it was that year. He, he was flying and he didn't see a cable.
He hit the cable. But yeah, I, Vincent was also a really good friend. I spent a lot of time with him and, and you know, at the time the life tracking system was not so, so good. You know, it was not nothing like what we have today. And I remember one day we, we went to sleep like somewhere near a village and it was quite a big just next to, and then my mom calls me and Hey, why do you sleep in the of ay And actually the life tracking was showing us right in the middle of the cemetery, you know, but like a big one.
Why would you sleep there? You know? And it was, it was, but Vincent was a really nice traveling companion and a really good pilot. But he was a lot of was,
Speaker 3 (33m 33s): I can't imagine flying that without any back protection or reserve
Speaker 2 (33m 38s): Or nothing. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (33m 41s): He
Speaker 2 (33m 41s): Didn't, didn't an, he didn't a, a cocoon. He didn a, a cocoon. He had just a line park lighting line. He was light like cocoon and, and he was fast. He flew like flight of and 80 Ks, you know, which in the time was something really Yeah.
Speaker 3 (33m 60s): Amazing. Yeah. Yeah. So 2009 you go back for more. That was creels first year. I, I don't remember much from 2009 cuz I was flying then. But the first one I really watched very closely was 2011. So tell us about 2009.
Speaker 2 (34m 17s): Yeah. When extremely interesting because at the time still there were no limits. You know, you could, you could run all night long and, and so I had been training my sleep, you know, I could really go for hours a day. I was sleeping a day or something. Only one supporter was at the time where we, we, we would only have one supporter in our teams. You know, everyone, it's, no one had like what we have today have ve one car and one supporter.
And so my supporter was a friend and, but was than I was, I would never sleep, you know? And, and I had this technique, it was really funny. We had a, we we had a bit more, like a bit more logistic with, and I had one of those two tents, you know, like Kathlin Yeah. The, the, the tent that throw in the, and it opens and we had one of tents in the, in the car would need to sleep and just open it next to the road and just crash.
And I remember I was following and was the, he was a and I was following and I would you in the night would just throw the tent next to my car. And there the would come and drive nearby and see the tent and they would, the Andi, Andi Tommy's went to you can stop, you know? Cause he was maybe one you're him out in front of me. Andi would stop and I would kind of around tent and start walking again.
So I, but we would always wait for him to, to set the tent, you know. And we would do that three or four times because of course someone will call him and say, Hey, go again. Tommy's, Tommy's on feet. Tommy's would go. And we would do that like all night, throw the tent and just laughing at Yeah. And until the moment where it would just, you know, crash and, and stop and say, this is it. And, but, but my, my strongest memory in 2009, it's is the strongest from all thes took part it with ums.
We were near Umma and actually I, I flew out the day before. So I was, I was already in the valleys, you know, in the, and I and I in the position and I was in the behind me and the water was horrible. So I was like, okay, this is it. I have the tense position, no big deal. You know, this is, I'm to in the 10, that's it.
But then I don't, he in the sky gray know, like almost raining. And he took and flew ks. I don't, don't ask me how he did it, but he did it. He flew in those really crappy conditions and landed two kilometers behind me. Wow. And there we were all super motivated to, to be, you know, wanted to started. And in the, and it's, and it's of flats basically like, oh, maybe not, but I think Tini it's like 50 or, yeah.
So yeah, we start going for, and we, and we day long and the day o'clock in the a i him, cause he's a and I'm like, Hey, how are doing man? Good. And you, yeah, good. Try both. Kinda faking it, you know? Like we, we were all, and both of us were super tired. And I say, I, I try something and I say, what do you think if we, you know, what about we stop for an hour, you know, at the same time we get some rest.
We, we maybe we eat something, you know, we change shoes and suck, you know, and sucks and whatever. You know, we take an, and then we go again and he says, yeah, let me think about, I call you back. Like, okay, I think he's gonna, you know, it's a good deal. Stop. And, and we, and we, and we take a bit of rest, you know. And then he calls me back and say, Hey Tom, yeah, I'm gonna get you man. I'm, I'm feeling strong, you know, I'm not gonna stop. You're you, you're gonna down, you're gonna, you know, it was really like, it was playing with me, but it was so, and then I started to say, no, no, no, you're, I'm, but we were both laughing other, but we were going, right?
And so we start running again. And I was so exhausted that night that I fell asleep walking. I, I crashed on the road. Like I fell my face, you know, I almost broke my, and I kept on, I kept on going all night long. And then we arrived above martini on the CO in the, I think it's called the or something, one of those. And, and I'm on top there and it's eight in the morning. And I'm like, shit, now I'm, but he gonna be here when the firsts and he gets and flies.
I cannot, you know, it was just rung for me. So I fly down, I my and to, and then I see hour close to me and catching with me. I'm like in the very last moment the would start would stop at 10 or something. Cause it was 20 hours or or 40 hours after the first one. So we had one hour left and he landed just maybe 500 meters behind me.
But my bag was packed and I was full on, you know, it was my last. So I kept on running and running and running. And then he me and said, Tom, you it. And was, remember he was, you know, he was, and he said, Tom, you have this, this is, you have the position. And there I don't, but brain just, and the road, I couldn't stand up anymore. I walk, my supporter had to come and me to go all the way to, cause I, I just, I had covered and we had covered a and 20 kilometers in one nonstop with the backpack.
So we were smashed. I think it's still the record now of the distance ever made hours in the, it was just nonstop. It's is one of my memory you that your limits are way,
Speaker 3 (40m 58s): Way
Speaker 2 (40m 58s): Beyond, you know, beyond, you know, way behind what you think. It's yeah. Know behind. Yeah. That's interesting about Excel. But I, I couldn't work for three days I think after that running. So, and you know, back anding, but it was still one of my, yeah, one of my memory. And, and I went in the, that year. So it was good.
Speaker 3 (41m 18s): I think one of the greatest buzzes of the race for me has, has been, and this has been in all of them at some point, is you, you have, you have these moments where you cannot believe what your body is doing. You, you cannot, cannot believe that it can keep going. And it, and, and most of the time you feel good doing it, you're okay, you know, you're just charging and charging and charging and you think, God, there's, how is this possible? It's a real, it's a real buzz.
I mean, and there are times where it just hurts. But boy, that's an addictive thing. When you, when it's just keep going.
Speaker 2 (41m 57s): It's, and what's interesting, like talking for example, you next and even if do nothing and stay at home in the, you know, you gonna be exhausted, but for whatever reason r in the exs and you just go and wake up in the morning and you're fresh and you go for it and you'll just wanna for, and it's, I think there's the adrenaline, the kick and of the communities kinda of carrying also you like pushing.
But it's extremely interesting and, and I think it's, it's put so many hours preparing and it's a long process and so your mind is prepared for this and your're, you know, you know what you're here for. And, but this is interesting is really the ex except difficult moments. It's, it's something that I always, during my, you know, when I go difficult, even during the day, you know, whatever happens, I always think about those moments. Like, ok, remember the time that you hiked A1 K with Virginia in remembered the, you covered you, you DIDs 6,000 meter positive kind of days.
That not to those we're. And we all's, that's the interesting part is that we can all do this, everyone can do it. Training and preparing and, and you know, putting the energy into that. So yeah, the limits are way what we think. And, and that's interesting. That's showed us and, and you history of excels because we're down lane now. It's, it's interesting to see that the whole support also has evolved. We, if you tell me in the, you know, I would say I, and now we distance now we're 1002 kilometers or something, which is crazy and we're doing it faster.
So it's, yeah, it's quite in
Speaker 3 (44m 4s): The level of professionalism. I mean even from my first, which was 2015, which we're not even to yet with you. And, and now it's remarkable how much faster everything, you know, like you're talking about the, the logistics and the apps. I mean we've got, we've got apps to handle everything that you didn't have in 2007, you know, for everything. For the, for our supporters to know where we are and to communicate. And I mean, we've got everything at our fingertips and, but all the teams are using it and it's, it's remarkable how fast it has gotten.
It's, you know, i I always say, yeah, you know, in 2015 you could make big mistakes and still totally be in the game. You know, you, you could make moves and it just seems like that window evaporates a little bit more with every race. You know, mistakes just cost. Yeah. And it's pretty hard to get it back.
Speaker 2 (44m 56s): Yeahs, I, and I can give you an example, in thousand nine, I supposed fly, I was getting into a, and I was supposed to fly left and went right? So was flying in the wrong direction really. Like for at or four kilometers. And then I, I got a message on my phone, you know, saying, Hey Tom, why, why are you flying this direction? And I was sure I was, you know, I was way, but, and you're tired at we didn those apps were on paper maps.
Paper maps. I was as I was just saying, oh, it was the first gaming GPSs with, you know, very basic maps. And so we were trying to figure it out, but it was really the beginning. Now you have everything on and it's, and you say the communication system, like in the communicate team, the different apps that we use, it's, it's a game changer for Yeah, it's a easier even like yeah.
A food or you. But what's been interesting in is that knew about ex know would, we were going through towns and no one would ever come and see you, you know, no one knew. It was like, what is he doing with his backpack? You know? And now everywhere you go there are some local, you know, some locals that you or show you the way or with you or you and a more help and local than we used to get before.
We didn't get any help no one knew about. No. I mean there's a high chance if you go into a village somewhere in Austria and say, Hey, I'm doing the pretty sure
Speaker 3 (46m 42s): They'll have your picture on the phone as you up and yeah, it's, that's,
Speaker 2 (46m 47s): Yeah,
Speaker 3 (46m 51s): You were as Toma ran that one pretty much. He was, he was second I think only two people got in Kreel and, and then Toma and the weather was awful. That was the, that was a tough year, wasn't it?
Speaker 2 (47m 3s): Yeah, the weather was really lot of, and I, I was starting to get good at all day long. You know, I, I had a, I was, we were starting to also understand how to train physically better. So every, all the athletes were getting stronger and, and getting closer to what Coconea to, to was doing. We would hike the in the, so that was, that was really hard. Yeah, I remember that that year.
And what I remember also, it was, it was interesting at the end of the race, I that year was supporter and didn't know anything. Paraag lading had paraag lading. We, he about to get married and we felt, well this is, this is a cool experience. This is something we should do once in our life, you know, do it together as brothers and so let's do it together. And, but, but I remember like even to open my on the ground, you couldn't do it upside didn anything.
So that was, that was interesting. But yeah, we, we had a really, a really, the end of the was really for me, remember we were flying Withm la quite good position, think five and or something that, or seven. And we in and the clouds were covering the ridge and so we couldn't cross to and Fly down in the other valley where other pilots and all those guys were down there.
So we landed on top and decided to land on top to hike guys. Itza was, was was way behind us in the morning. But he decided to go through a national park and we as is and pilots and the forbidden race and forbidden and I dunno, za took the, and flew above us and, and got into the top 10 and then, and flew into the, and then I was there and Fly and Fly and Fly and it was the ra the end of the race.
So there I was 11th instead of 10. Za just flew over me a minute before the end. Like it was really two minutes before the end of the race. So into, and for me at the time I was on low budget, so I was really to pay for race. The race. And so it was, it was those years, you know? And, and then I had to walk down 2000 years. Oh. And it was, the race was done, it was finished, but I had no other way to go.
So I walk more everyone celebrating stuff. Hard but an amazing experience. And on the first night I, I went into it was, I landed near the Dutch and, and on the first my brother couldn't find me, he couldn't find me and was PM or something. And he couldn't, he couldn't in the, the, the the, the access were closed and stuff. So I just went to a house and I at the door and some drunk guys open and they were like three or four guys likes I think.
And they were totally wasted and they, and you know, is to and s slept basically in my glider, you know, on the side of the road and wait for the next day to go the D and Fly. But those were really hard races. Yeah. Really, really ones. One of the, that I best memory for in race was when we arrived next to, it was close to ma I think the were still was still a turn point in Italy.
And I was with, I think, I'm sure I was with, and we were a group of people between six to or something. We were all on the takeoff in the morning and we were on the good timing. The takeoff was beautiful and stuff. And then I looked at Michael and were che know big pillars, you know, mountains and we were would dream to off, but you have hike maybe an hour more that then to take in the, the of those.
And so we start looking at it and we're like, ju let's go man. Let's just go. So we kinda discreetly, you know, we didn't anything to, we disappeared and we fast and arrived foot thoses and funny because we were both sponsored Volkswagen by gradient and by peak performance at the time. So we were like dressed exactly the same. Like we had the same logos in the gliders, we the same gliders, we had the flow. It's, and we even same little, we're like, okay, let's go now.
And we took off, got so lucky because the, the of the was in the, and they couldn't get out and we took off and we went like sky ruts into like to cloud-based directly. We flew the Tere Chi and then we, we away and left at 80 kilo at the end of the day we were number five, maybe number five or something. So really good position just because, you know, for the beauty of the it, you know, just cause we wanted to see this from, I really love that because we decided to do it not for, we could have just stayed with the others saying, Hey, we're a big group we and stuff.
But we didn't, it was not even a better takeoff or at it didn't like, but it was just, we wanted to do that. And the experience was amazing. Like soaring on those bigs and Fly out and we landed in the, in the,
Speaker 3 (53m 25s): That's a good movie. Do you, when you're kind of reminiscing and thinking back on these, does it, does it make you think of a, a head space or a place you, you have found mentally that really works in this race? I mean, it seems like more, you know, I know one of my failings in the race has often been that I'm trying too hard. You know, I I I I forget to be a hike and Fly pilot and I, and I think too much about course line, but I just, you know, I get in this mode where I, I I almost, I almost forget that I know what I'm doing.
You know, that that you just, when you're, I'm not, in other words, I'm not in the zone. I'm, I'm not in flow. I'm, I'm fighting it instead of just, just letting it go and letting it work out.
Speaker 2 (54m 16s): Yeah. Yeah. This is, this is really, this is very interesting. Cause that's what I've learned from, you know, is, is one of my best friend and he is that this kinda pilot who, he takes his own decisions, you know, and he does his thing and he works on intuition and instinct and some way it's kinda, but you know, decisions and it, and does and it, and you always look at how did you pull that, you know, and just doesn't follow the crowd, you know?
And, and so I, I used to be a follower, like I used to kinda look at the guys that I knew better. I would, in my first race for sure, I would just look at nationalities would say, Hey, we're in the is youre in the or we are in Germany or in Austria. I would always do like that. Cause they knew someone who knew someone, the paragliding schools were around, you know, helping and stuff. So even some of the guys I remember and once even his lifeing in the morning so that we couldn't see his secret takeoff, you know, like that.
I mean, he knows. He knows I know and we know he knows. And so, but but, but it was, it was this kinda of things, you know? So, but, but then I've learned from De that we, it's always better to take your own decision and if you make a mistake, that's your own, you know, and that's your problem. And you cannot find any excuses. And I feel better like this too now. And so now I, I just, I try to do my own thing, you know, and take my own lines and decide for myself.
And even though, even with that mindset, I can see that sometimes I get influenced and most of the time it's by my team and your team, you know, they're in the ground and they you to be fast and they think they have a better idea, which is sometimes it's true, but sometimes you just, you should just do, you know, and you maybe mistakes improve, then you can come backer then you can always reflect on it. And so now this is the way I see it. I, I just work on, I try to get in the zone, as you say, I, to get in the state and I, I try to listen and one of my strategy now is I always say, if you wanna, you have to, is we have to think bit, you know, sometimes you want rush into a new move, a next move, you know, you're like, let's, let's not time baba, bam, let's go, let's go's go.
But if you take five minutes of your time to just sit, you know, and really think about what is the best option and you know, measure a little bit what the pros and cons and then it makes difference. And in the end of the day, those five little minutes that you've lost, just thinking a little bit better about the next move, it makes all difference for sure. You know, it's interesting
Speaker 3 (57m 9s): Hear you say that
Speaker 2 (57m 10s): Often used influenced fast. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (57m 13s): It's interesting to hear you say it's often influenced by your, by your team. I, you know, we just had Aaron De Gotti out here for the X red rocks and after the, he just dominated, he was incredibly strong. And after the race he and I got to spend quite a bit of time just chatting and he, he, he's had a big year, you know, he did the huge flights in Pakistan as you did. We haven't even talked about that. But he, you know, he had a big, big year in Pakistan and he's had some really nice results.
And he was saying that, you know, for him, the ex ops has really never gone that well. Now for most people it would be very, well he's, you know, he was sixth and seventh and I mean he, but, but he hasn't won. And you know, he's very competitive. And he was saying that he feels like that one of the reasons is that he's always had people on the, on his team who have been pilots. And he, this year he's going to have a team with no pilots.
He, he want, you know, he'll have a mountain guide, he'll have strong people and he'll have the supporters that he needs, but he, he wants to make, he, he just wants to be uni influenced by others and not that there, not that it's even a bad influence, he just feels like he performs better if, if the decision making is all his. And it's interesting to hear. Yeah. You
Speaker 2 (58m 35s): Know, and
Speaker 3 (58m 36s): It makes sense. It's interesting for me to even contemplate an ex excepts without a pilot on my team. But it, it does make sense. I, I I like that philosophy and that, you
Speaker 2 (58m 45s): Know, it does make sense.
Speaker 3 (58m 46s): We all know what
Speaker 2 (58m 47s): We're doing and not only Yeah. Yeah. And then there, there, you know, pilots and pilots, I, I have, you know, some pilots in my team for next year, but, but they know, they know what they know and they, you know, the problem is, you know, we, we've been through this, you know, we, we know exactly what its, and what it feels like. And, and sometimes people would say they're that it's dangerous or it's windy, it's as good, or, or maybe you should five because it's gonna get better. And I you rely on my nutrition.
Nutrition. It's, it's not some sort of magic, you know, it's based on your experience. It's all the experience that you, through the years. And then when you get into a situation, you have that, that gut, that is a situation you've before, you know, or the other way around. You have a intru, you've been through this situation and it's time. It didn't end well. The, so it's experience. Experience. And maybe I would think that you're the experienced, you're and you're athletes' you've been before.
And so I to on someone who maybe has been flying for three or four years, he's super motivated, he's got lots of ideas and stuff, but maybe he doesn't have the key to for the next move. And you shouldn't pay much attention to him. And I've done it many times in the, I've been this for I'm show you would take off, I, I flew A1 triangle from here, you're love it, blah, blah, blah. Took me to this I for one hour following this thinking, he knows everything.
It, he's probably the follow and takeoff seen it impossible the by. And then I looked at, at this guy and I thought, well, I dunno him, I've never heard of him. I, I dunno who he's, maybe it's just a friend of another athlete and he's telling me stories, you know, who knows? I mean I would think that that's not the case. You know, who knows? You know, and here you are, you've been training for, for two years and you there and you follow the first guy who comes with a good idea.
This is ridiculous. This my, you know, and it happened to many, I know, to the take then lost in the way and like, do you really where you're going? Yeah, I've been here before then you take much time as the other one was following you. It's something I that a thing, you should trust yourself first and then trust your team, but take your own decisions always. And I think for a, this is for, this is is true. And I think also I've talked to a lot about this we're, it's also like, because he is, you know, he's one of probably top five pilots in the world for sure.
And, and Aaron is, you know, he's do, you know, and, and easy to races without too much pressure. His thing's the fastest and he rights decisions. And I think he's gonna do well this year. I'm quite confident, like a is one of the er he's in the really,
Speaker 3 (1h 2m 12s): I haven't seen him this physically strong. He's always strong, but he's, yeah, he's, I think he's in the right head space going into this one. It'd be, it'd be fun to watch him. Which reminds me of 2013. So that was, you know, you guys had banner weather in 2013, Kriegel finished in six days. You even had a tailwind, which is unheard of in the X Alps for the first, you know, all the way to Mon Blanc. There was kind of a light easterly. I don't know if you remember that, but yeah, I wasn't in the race. Yeah. At this point I was completely addicted to it.
And I remember watching you guys the first day, you know, from the berg up to the dine and flying down the pins gal and, I mean, I think Kreel almost made it the La Moose that day, or maybe he did. Yeah. But it was, and it was, it was him and Aaron going, you know, they were, they were battling out front cuz they're both, you know, big time comp pilots. Yeah. And they were, they were going real fast. But yeah. Tell us about 2013 and your experience. Cause I, the weather was incredible.
Speaker 2 (1h 3m 15s): Yeah. 2013 was, was incredible. It was an amazing year for me. It was a complicated year. I went into the, with Glider, it actually happened three in the, so that's interesting. Flying gradient as you and it, my sponsor and I was doing lots of other adventures with them and it was, it was a beautiful, they had good gliders and stuff, but they didn't like, the timing was always wrong. Like it didn't work out. Like they would have a new D glider, but then we use it for one Excels and then maybe the another.
And then I arrived in 2013 and, and we didn't have a glider ready. And so the new C glider was almost performing as well. It was japen at the time, but still, you couldn't keep up with the other guys. Impossible. You know, it was the first, I think it was the came out or something. So Ozone had a really glider And so for me it was very frustrating because you're, there you are with some of the pilots in the, A glider with, you know, really limited with wind and performances.
And I remember that on day we ki think in the second together landed I kilo him, I had hill to, to go was not on takeoff with him and I couldn't keep up. It was, it was hard. But at the same time I had really good time. And one of my best memory of race, we were, we were still a hundred K and really covering distance. And that's the first after 2000, 7,009 and 2011 time passed.
And to really to Manco. And, and on the very last day it was incredible because I was into, I think, I don't remember exactly where, I think I was 12 or 11 or it doesn't matter, but, but we were fighting with the police guy. I don't remember his name anymore. P yeah, yeah. Pab and yeah, it's such a guy. And so it was the last of the, and was, so we basically joined me flying and I knew he had a glider than mine.
I, I had no, like if he'd just with me would the end, it just speed to push speed bar. It just had to speed to, to push the, the speed bar. And he me behind so he knew it. So only technique I, I needed to find way to, you know, get lost and, and try to living behind. So in one of those, it was, I remember it was a beautiful mountain near not from, and it was very, like, it was a very, and I was flying into a terminal there.
And then I would kind hide and seek with him, you know, like I would go behind the, the go behind the, the thing and then come back. And now every time I would come back I could see was, you know, he and turning his own thermal 200. He was, he was control. It was control and, and appearing again. Hiding. Appearing again. And then one of a sudden I saw, OK, now thinks that I'm gonna stay here and try, you know, climb in this, in the bar full on.
And I get super to the, and and when realized that was already like one, so I'm there in front and there's like maybe 15 left or something. So I'm like, ok, I need climb now. And so I get another, the turmoil and he follows and he's catching course I ladder is than mine's catching, catching and then time, there's five minute I'm one meter high. I say, okay, it's bar like Monaco full speed bar.
I put my arms inside my harness and I'm like, okay, now we'll sees and, and and to you just side by the, the, in the, because the life tracking had two minutes delay. You know, I was showed 10 meters in front of him at the end of the race. And so I I You got position guys in front him? Yeah. Unbelievable. Yeah, yeah.
We were like just next to each other at the very last of the race. Like we were together. Wow. And so we did a grounds together, we did a experi together like glider against Glider. We landed and I jumped into his arms and we started like laughing and Oh, what a finish. It was amazing. We were, we were like super happy and it didn't really matter, like who was first or second, it was just, we had played this beautiful game for the like two hours and a half. Like we had really pushed ourselves in, in flying in the end is so much better than being running on the road, you know?
And I remember Dimitri, no, it was the Russian guy. He was running on the Flew over in the end. Yeah. Was was amazing. And, and we celebrated and I think, I think at the end I was maybe 12 and he was 13 or 13. Dunno,
Speaker 3 (1h 8m 47s): That's I've, I've in the air end of the Yeah, I bet I'll, I'll in the ground. My first one I was in Monaco, which was awesome. But the, but the other ones, I've always been on the ground. That'd be cool to be in the air at the end of the race and racing. That'd
Speaker 2 (1h 9m 4s): Be awesome. Not even in the last race in, in the last race. I was in the air also during that in
Speaker 3 (1h 9m 9s): The, I had just landed.
Speaker 2 (1h 9m 11s): Enjoy that.
Speaker 3 (1h 9m 12s): Yeah. That was, that was, that was neat. That was a neat end for, for us last time. But no, I had just landed. Oh wow. That'd be really cool. Okay, so 2015
Speaker 2 (1h 9m 21s): First. Cool. Cause we knew, but we, we were both, yeah, 2015. Yeah. That's also an interesting year. That was your first time, right?
Speaker 3 (1h 9m 28s): Yeah, that was my first. You've already done four at this point. You're still much younger than I am. But
Speaker 2 (1h 9m 34s): You did really well on, on, on your races there. I remember you did amazingly well.
Speaker 3 (1h 9m 38s): 2015 was good. Yeah. That was, you know, I I, I'd like to have that head space back cause I know I'm a better pilot, you know, over all these years. But you know, like we were talking about earlier, I think it, it helped a lot going in being completely ignorant, you know, having no idea. I I, I literally had no idea if I was just gonna be eliminated or if I could do it. I've, I had never been an endurance athlete, but, you know, so I was, I was going in with a lot of trepidation, which allowed me to be, I think just do stuff and have fun, you know?
And so, which, which worked a lot better. But it was, there was a lot of wind, your buddy, we saw a lot of dropouts that year. Michael Gehart and Toma got really hurt. You got hurt. There was a, it was a pretty pretty race.
Speaker 2 (1h 10m 28s): Yeah, yeah. And, but yeah, it was was, and it was about, about Michael who dropped out the race. I I was there with him that day and we, we took off together and conditions were super bad. And again, we were both sea gliders, so we were quite limited in the, in the, just get stuck, you know, so it was hard. And on one of those flights it was very turbulent and we were flying together with Michael and one of a sudden for, for, I dunno why, you know, it just turned around and went to land.
But he went back like maybe 10 in the, down in the, and I knew, I knew at that moment, I, I kinda of felt that he was, he was stopping the, you know, he actually told me in the morning, yeah, don't know, i, I don't conditions anymore. I I don't feel like this a safe. And so I like, well you should just listen to, to you feel and just stop or maybe take a day off. And so it's it race on going and I, I catching made a goods was with Kelvin Umin in the area, OFin.
And we were number seven I think. So together. And, and we do really well when we fly as a team. So we were like excited. We're like, is now, this is the moment for to, to team. We've adventures together each other really well and were super motivated to try to keep going together. The, and we arrived on the takeoff and it was super sketchy, takeoff, very steep. It was no wind. Little bit of coming up, almost nothing. And what we do with, when we get into those places, we do, you know, who's, and so did, and he knew I could help him, you know, I could, I could all glider and stuff.
So he went down into the, the face a bit and I was holding his glider and perfectly a he really nice and away and so prepared and I everything ready and cause I his take off, I, well, this is easy, good, but I inflated my, and for whatever reason it kinda stayed, you know, it didn't really carry me. I, I couldn't feel the pressure, but I felt like, okay, well this is super, I'm just gonna give two steps and Fly.
But it didn't, two steps and the behind and, and kind of stalled, like entered in, into a deep. And so I hit the maybe four meter below and I tumbled the, and ladder tangled into the stones, whatever, I don't what is what happened. And ladder tangled into rocks of my lines on the right side broke and the other f hopefully pulled and I went back to the wall like with my foot in the super and broke my foot.
And then I was on a 30 centimeter edge sitting there with one, you know, Alf seated and looking down and I had, or meters of steep face like yeah, I, I should that that, I think that was just the worst accident I had. I mean, I only broke my foot, which was nothing. But in regards of what happened, I should've died that day. My helmet was broken. I, I hit to rock with my fa with my, the was smashed.
And, and, and that's, it's quite, quite, and, and the story don't, but pushed the, the button on in reach, you know, and I was one of those guys who really insisted at the time that everyone should have an in the SOS button on the, in the, you know, they called message and, and said, Tom, what you think we should, you know, are the Rises team?
And for whatever reason, my supporter this time, you know, said to them, oh he's probably okay. He was flying with his friend still Tom should be okay. So I pushed a second time and then my received a message again and she that something was wrong. So she called, cause she had num his number and she called the organization and she said, guys, my son pushed twice in the button. He's a professional athlete, you know, he knows what he's, I don't, I don't think it's just button by the you yous are someone.
And three the came we something that could taken minutes, you know, like they knew and they were just next door. They just thought that they wanted to think that everything was fine. So they just, wow. Just didn't check. Which was crazy. So, so that was, and in, and, and that was my mistake. I've briefed team and if I pushed send, you just don't even think about it. And you know, my supporter had maybe a three hours of sleep the night before and he was exhausted and probably just didn't properly.
And what happened and that hard for Fed is it's felt he actually flew away. See, saw coming out of that off and he kind of feel like, okay, maybe he didn't take off or he kinda, you know, yeah, I dunno what happened exactly in his head, but he didn't know. But at the same time we were so like, and so in the evening went and Fly back, you know, five to just see if everything was ok.
They're like, this is fine, this is a race, you know, this is ok. But he felt so bad, that was really a hard moment for him and wanted to the race day because just felt so bad, we're exhausted and, you know, know and we, we just, we, we dunno how deal with all this. So it's, it's too much to take. But, but that AED in position, I think together we could have done also a really, so, but yeah, was super, and and that's where you see, see the, that was a scary moment.
And that's where you see the experience of those guys with helicopters in the, you know, they, and, and there I was for a few days to recover. So that was difficult here, but yeah. That's how's not a good place to you? No, and that's, that's part in the story before I broke my back in, and actually that's the so capture that came to get me and they brought me into the same hospital really.
And so they, the yeah, yeah. And I sponsored by Solomon, so I was dressed with Solomon, you know, I rebel helmets and poles and a, you know, dressed pretty much the same, in the same hospital again for a paragliding accident. But on the first accident I broke my back and I stayed for like a week there, you know, so everyone knew me and they, the Ironman I paragliding but was still kinda okay.
And so when the iron back and come on guys, no jokes please. And so I knew everyone, I knew all the nurses by, by their names and stuff. It's hospital, you know. So yeah, it was, it was, the accident happened kilometers away from the before. Wow. It I difficult years idxg and where we went all around the atic sea, we thousand kilometers hiking and flying and I broke there and a to recover and we to finish the circle and it, it was really good training for outs and then came tos and then I broke my, again into the, you know, surgery and you know, like the thing.
And, and then I recovered. I started to go on expeditions again and then climbing and part of finger stone fell on me. So it was three years in a where I accidents. I dunno if you've seen that before, but yeah, I I didn't know that. Yeah, I didn know that I was, I was climbing with, I was climbing with, you know him, you knows we were opening line.
I'm, I'm not climber I've, I always following them and just enjoying my time in the mountain. But I had a feeling that morning and I told them, hey, I, I don't don't about, and then, yeah, I was going after them and basically, I don't know exactly what happened, but I, I tried to, you know, go over a big, a big stone, big boulder and the thing disconnected from the, and was so smashed.
Yeah, they just passed before. So they, they got Nike too and I got lucky cause I would've been below and, and a minute before I took a friend, you know, one of those thing that they puts, I took that imagine the we wouldn't story in the, that I had in exited. And there I felt, you know, I have to think about the way i I approach risk and how I manage it, you know?
And, and that was very interesting. I went spend with, at APC re Bull has might athlete performance center called the a and it's, it's a super cool place where athletes can go and train and gets and stuff. And we have, we have psychologists, we have, you know, trainers and everything. And so I went there and I said, I the approach risk some, you know, I, I see things differently.
And it was very interesting, the, I think we talked about it before, maybe in the podcast last time, but it was the way you can manage risk and way you can approach it and gave thing that I would like with, with the pilots. It's interesting you, when you, you get a situation, let's say you're getting on the takeoff in the morning, you know, there's three things you should check. One is how you feel, like, is it a good day? You know, did, did you, did you have your coffee morning? Did you have a everything at, at just kinda of a mental, in your relations, you mental, do you, do you feel good?
Then, then the other one is the, the the location check. If I could say it's like where am I? You know, and what, what are the conditions? Oh, the is dark, maybe it's windy, it's side to take off, know it anything or it's beautiful and it's great. It looks like an amazing day. And, and, and what about gear? You know, okay, I'm flying a new, or I'm, I'm a gladder that I know, you know, like let's say the surrounding everything that surrounds, that's the second that you have. And then the third is, did I for I'm I here to take off?
Okay, well, and, and then what? To fly distance. Okay, am I prepared? Do I have enough food? Do you have all my instruments charge and stuff? And, and so by only doing this, you can see if some red lights pops up. You know, like if oh well I'm actually tired or I just, you know, my, my wife just is gonna case, but, but, but, you know, and or, or I've never flown this ladder or the wind is coming from the side, but it's just, it's just check. It takes five minutes.
But it, it gives you, you know, it, it can, you can position yourself, you know, in, in the reality. And you can look around and say, okay, well maybe this is not a good day or maybe I just should take my expectations or my mission lower, lowered my goals today. You know, because maybe I'm, I'm tired and, and, and by only doing this, it gives me a lot more clarity if I can say, you know. Yeah. And it's, it's super easy. It's pretty basic. You might even think, you know, but most people don't do this, you know, they, and they're just, they, blah, let's, and they, they, they, they hurry.
That's very tool. And, and, and it with, I take to this, this, you know, and, and if, if the intuition says, Hey Tom, be extra careful, then I'm just gonna be extra careful.
Speaker 3 (1h 24m 12s): Yeah. I mean I think, I think setting a, setting an environment for our brains to adapt, you know, if you, if you make that kind of a sequence, a habit, you know, you can, your, your brain, like you said, intuition, it's not magic. It, it is our collective experiences that we call our gut feeling, you know? And our gut feeling is something exactly, you know, we, we need to get really good at listening to, because it's not, like you said, it's not wacky.
It's, it's, it is, you know, it's, it's a combination of fear and all those things that we need to stay alive. And I think it's, you know, when you, when you have that, I, I like that, that you've created kind of a, a mental framework for you to kind of jump in, assess things real quick. You know, how do I feel? How does the sky look? How do, how do things look? And, and what am I here to do? And it's, you know, sometimes that answer is yeah, you can walk down, which is a good thing.
Speaker 2 (1h 25m 14s): A good, exactly. And it's, and it's just about in with, with yourself, you know, like be tuned and listen to your inner voices and you know, and we do in paragliding, we do a lot of, like, you go to paragliding school and people won't tell you about these things. You know, they'll tell you about how to off and to, and that, but they won't tell you about just, let's just sit down and look at what, what its and what's happening. And you knows, and it happened times that in the where I, and then you in the year and then, oh, oh, the wind is quite strong.
Like I should have realized before taking off, you know, that's not how work. So it's like experience, we, we can manage, but, but it, but still, maybe you get into the red, don't even notice and a few, and then it's all, you're gonna get hurt. You know? I, that's very interesting. Say, okay, you, let's take a little bit time and to what's you, and not to reflect, but to analyze what's happening around us and, and just try to understand and tune in with conditions and stuff.
And I do that also at the end of a flight. I, I try to take two minutes after landing of the time, and then you just, you have a fresh beer. But, and then I sit down for a minute and like, okay, how was it? What did I like, what, what I didn't like? Was it a close call or did I feel safe all the way? Maybe I should do things differently. And I to just do it while I'm still in it, you know, because if you, if you for a few days and you forget your experience, just, just getting to a next and, and maybe you cannot get the most outta it.
So it's a main game at the end of the day, you know, and people tend to forget about this. Yeah. But it's, it's just a game. The thing.
Speaker 3 (1h 27m 15s): Good advice. I love it. Tom, 2017, I remember a lot of bad weather in 2017. We, we, you and I were, we were pretty close to each other in that race for a long ways as I recall. And we had the Garda turn point, which was tough. And, but yeah, I remember, I remember a lot of big weather, a lot of storms. But that was the tree glob. That, that's right. Was that the, that was the tree club year. I saw the scariest flying I'd ever seen in my life.
Day two, we were, I I had pulled my night pass inextricably, that was a huge mistake and walked all night. And I had gotten up to that, that pass that was heading, you know, the heading down into Austria the next morning I remember, and turned around and saw Paul and gas bar and Ben Wa and others fly outta that canyon in really strong north fern conditions. And I actually called Jorgen the safety director and said, you better get the helicopter out here.
Somebody's going down. It was the sketchiest flying I'd ever seen in my life. And that was when Kriegel pulled that yet again, another incredibly magic move and got all the way down to tree glove and got out that night. That was, that was amazing to see. But
Speaker 2 (1h 28m 32s): Tell us about, yeah, remember
Speaker 3 (1h 28m 33s): That us about, remember the first day? No, no one flew. That was the first in the ex. There wasn't, it was, we got up to the top of the GE and it was dumping rain, so we all just walked off it.
Speaker 2 (1h 28m 44s): We ran
Speaker 3 (1h 28m 45s): Down, ran down. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (1h 28m 46s): Right. I remember that. That was horrible. That horrible. Yeah, I remember that man. Two 17 was for me, one of the, but the same, it was interesting. It was worst was, but then I got a penalty time. Oh. And, and there was a mistake that I was, yeah. So what happened is that, I don't remember exactly, I do, but every morning I would've would from, you know, and they would give me the forbidden areas.
At the time we didn't have so many, I should, to be honest, it's my mistake. I should have known every area. Like now I, I study every forbidden area in the way and try to know all of them. But it's difficult as you know. And there's, there's so, and and that day we, in the morning we analyze, oh, this is interesting what it did there around this month I would've got straight Why is that? But we didn't, we didn't see it. And we had this Google app and it was a, but the was really and didn't and didn't see It didn't.
And so it was not in the, we've all the FDN areas, be careful with this and that. And so I was flying and I hear Theo beeping like, doing this thing, but I'm like, oh, must close. But there's forbids haven't, it's not in my thing. I think was a, it was a a a zone military zone where the guys, the military, they train once a month they do shooting exercises or something.
So it's forbidden, but it's not like I was into a big airspace or, you know. Yeah. You weren't hitting CTR something it of ones causing Yeah, yeah. In, in like, nothing like that. I went into it and the rule was really clear at the time it was penalty. So that was really hard to take. Cause I was doing well. I was, I was in the, and then I got, I got from the race director, he, Hey Tom, I'm, you're gonna 48 hours.
So I that at the end of those 48 hours I was gonna be last, which happened actually, I, I took two days off, which was great. I mean, in the, I had four days of, or five days and then I two days off. So we went into a small village. We a we were, and I slept a lot and Ed and They'res, nothing I could do, you know? Yeah. And then one of guy had also a penalty. So we, we, it was Ebony and also had the forbidded me.
So we were both that situation and we were, so we started to ourselves like as much we, and we got lucky cause one guy got hurt in front and he decided not to get out the race. He kinda said, Hey guys, I'm hurt, but I'm just gonna sit here so can in the, and so disqualified in the back. So I was kinda of safe. But then we, and for the rest of the race we kinda of, we were fighting to avoid being the last and being, you know, cut off the race.
So it was, was really for, but distance and, and cover distance. And I myself, but, so at the end of the race, I was just one before last or something like that. But I was still in the race, which was became my new, my new goal basically after I got the penalty time. But, but it's, it was hard. It's hard to like, to race again in the race where, you know, you can do anything, you're not gonna get to the end, which was my dream. You know, you, you're not gonna do anything.
The is gonna be pretty bad. So you really have to not, you know, just go home. It's hard. But I couldn't go. You, you have things with and, and just it play, you know, as we can say. So I just say, okay, well this is what it's, and I, my team said sorry, I said, ok, this is how, there's nothing we can do about it. And we kept on pushing quite hard and I was really at the of the we.
And, and that's actually, cause we think about, we look at the ranking and those guys in the back, they must be lazy, but that's really not the case. I mean, you push as much as you push in the front, in the back, you know, it's, it's, it's crazy how fast actually goes in the back, but sometimes a of last group and, and, and you to fight your life. And that's so intense. I would, I would prefer a hundred time being somewhere in the middle, so you don't have all that pressure of being cut off the race.
You know, that's super hard to be,
Speaker 3 (1h 33m 49s): I never experienced that until my last race, you know, that was series of weird things happened to us the first two, three days in the, in the last race where I'd always had pretty good starts and, you know, it was uncomfortable. And I never had to think about, I've never had to think about elimination or had to deal with that. Yeah. Until this last one. And, and I was on the chopping block for the first four, I, at least the first three eliminations. And you, like you said, it's, it's a totally different kind of racing.
It's very stressful. And Nick Naans, who had always done well, he and I were battling and out and couple others that were, you know, really covering ground well. And it was, you know, I just kept thinking, there's no way I'm gonna get eliminated for this race. I just gotta keep doing my thing. But it was, it was really neck and neck. And then we had some bad, you know, some, some things happen that were kind of out of our control, you know, people ahead that would just quit instead of, you know, just riding it out, you know, which isn't really Yeah, that's bad philosophy of the race.
And, and it was, yeah, it was just, it was always intense. It was intense for quite a while and then, you know, finally broke free of it, you know, day seven or day eight or something. But yeah, it's a,
Speaker 2 (1h 35m 4s): It's kinda
Speaker 3 (1h 35m 5s): Place to be. It's scary.
Speaker 2 (1h 35m 8s): Yeah. And it's, it's, it's, and it's intense and you tend to take risks too, you know, because you have that pressure, that extra pressure. And I hated it. And, and, but you know, for us that we, we know what's, what the race is all about. And I've seen some of the best pilots in the Martin Miller one and it gonna, and and next day you threw 50 K and, and came back into top three. And I think it finished the, in, in in the top.
So it's, it can change. So, you know. Yeah. But we all know that if you, you luck decision or, or on like, if you have good luck, if you're lucky, you, you make a good it, it change the race and you're five minutes late, you know, in the evening and Fly down into the valley and then you alpha day. And that happens all the time. And it, it's, it's, it's it and to it and say, okay, well tomorrow it's gonna be another day and we'll try to our best.
And for me, in the last race felt, I was always off timing. I arrive, wind was getting strong, and then I would, I would catch up with the guys and then boom, it was whatever for whatever couldn't go. Or I would in the on, on the mountain pass and not being able to down and have to down on, you know, it, it was off time. And, but that's how its, I guess, you know, that's, that's how the race works.
And for me, 17 was really hard, but was probably one of my best year. I was gonna say, we
Speaker 3 (1h 36m 51s): See, we get to see you come alive. That was, that was, that was your year. It was, you know, you know, all, all these years of just slipping out of the top 10 and or just not making Monaco. And, and 2019 was, was your year, man, you were strong that year. It, it just charging you were in the 10 in the race.
Speaker 2 (1h 37m 11s): I, yeah, but I have to be like, if I'm with you, it's, it's not that I was not prepared the races before, but I, I didn't take it so seriously. Like, and I was playing gliders some years and it was like, but 20 I really decided to change, you know, the way I was doing things. I with a different, like I that really professionally, if I say, you know, we were before, I was just like, okay, let's go on a cool adventure and let's push and let's try to do something.
But, but my approach in 20 was, I could say for the first time, really more professional and I to Monaco I into it and I trained, like at, I flew a a lot. I, I studied the route. And so, and I got a bit, you know, in the flight, in the, and, and interesting because until three days before the end, well, if I wanna make, I need to per minimum, I think I have to cover a day straight.
It was, it was, I felt I was not gonna make it, you know? And especially when iBio, that was really hard that day. Monte vio and turn point out and I'm, and I received a, from a friend and from the organization and they say, Tom, you, you didn't make the turn point. And I'm like, what? Yeah, well you, you just didn't, didn't, didn't you.
And so I'm, I'm soaring on like a mountain from like three, but clouds are getting dark. And I'm like, I'm back. I'm, I'm not gonna be able to get out. And I'm like, are you sure? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I land and I called the organization. I said, guys, you really sure. And, and we talk and I like almost half an hour and I see pilots, me and, and then I, I look at the, the master and it didn't have coverage. My master didn't get, the card was not working.
So what was happening is at the time when your fly was not working, your inReach was doing the, but of course your in the 10. So that point was of the cylinder. Then I decided to, and Fly will get coverage, you'll send the points and they'll see that I was in, you know, it, I'm, I'm going south. So I took off again, but I had lost an hour a half almost. It was crazy didn. So I flew out and I landed at the, of the, when everyone landed 20 were in the day.
It was really hard for me. And so I landed there and then we realized that I did do the turn point. It was in, you know, clearly in. So I was like, oh man, I should just gone. That wouldn't anymore, because we have in the Tom, Tom, you didn't make it, you fly. You're like, well, you trust them. So anyway, not trying to finds, but that evening I thought, I'm it Toco, this is ruined.
This is too far, only 20 left. This is, this is too much. I had to fly the next day. Conditions were great, you know, know. But then the next day I got lucky, the weather improved. I flew well and, and I was, you know, really super motivated. And I, and Monaco was interesting. I arrived flying and I had a big thunderstorm in my back and I had conversions and I was flying, like everything was going up, beep.
And then I saw the other guys just in the top five between I think it was six, seven. And they were just, and and, and go with them. But I thought, I'm not gonna make a difference if I go with them. You know, they're in front, they'll in front and we're gonna one after the other. I'm didn't I hmm. Went down, didn't do much. I landed, I looked at my GPSs and saw 75 kilometer hike, get to the turn point and I start counting hours and I'm like, ok, I have my pass.
Okay, at an average of seven kilometer per hour, I will do it. But I had to keep average. So I start running and I ran for 10 hours and I arrived one hour before the end of the race. Oh my very special
Speaker 3 (1h 41m 53s): That holy,
Speaker 2 (1h 41m 56s): Yeah. I really had to push like the night, the night after such a long race. But I knew I was gonna make it. Like I was, I was already celebrating, like I knew okay, tens or I have to, it was, so I had to around seven per hour, seven k per hour. And, and I knew I could do it like, you know, running and hiking really fast and it was downhill quite a lot in the beginning. So I was really, and then, but then it was up and down and and down and, but I, you know, I had you knowing for that moment all my life, you know.
So for me it was, I'm just gonna go it. And it was very emotional. Like I remember when I on top, I, I cried. I was so team and to Toco from, from point of yeah, Monaco and, and being I, I think I was for or something night I think. Yeah. But it was, it was beautiful, really cool experience. And that day, Coconea flew the storm. Coconea flew the, I telling you had to, and he went he 5,000 meters and then he escaped and he went back 40 the, and and landed somewhere that was, that was, was pretty heavy.
But yeah, beautiful race. I really enjoyed it. And I, I, it was in the same between seven, you know, I was seven in the, and something being six. But I was happy make it and that was good enough for me.
Speaker 3 (1h 43m 39s): And in 2021 we got the big huge change of not going to Monaco anymore, which I personally was thrilled about. I didn't like Monaco very much, but I did kind of feel for the rookies going into it because it's, it's something to get there. It's, it's special to go to the sea, but totally different race and you know, kind of an out and back around mount bla And you and I didn't spend any time together. Like I said, I was, I was fighting at the back in the beginning and really had a tough few days to start off with the start off with the race.
But my weather experience with the race was, was frequently terrifying. And I'd love to hear your, your perspective and, and how the race went for you. Because as in 2019 you were, you were crushing it, you were really doing well.
Speaker 2 (1h 44m 31s): Yeah. What what was very interesting for me is that for the first time I had an amazing, you know, in 21. So in 20 I was with the wide from Clair, but it was four years the ladder. So in 2017 also. And it was a good in thousand 17, but in it was already quite behind the others. And, but in the, and it was the first time and, and performance and, and I could feel that I was, you know, fighting with the others in the same, you know, like if you go to a Formula One race with the same, the first ones, you know, it's super, it was very motivating.
Me, I mean everyone had gliders at stage, but it me to, and, and so I was motivated. I had been playing quite a lot and in terms of training, I put lot of hours. Like physically I was, I was very strong. I think I actually have the record that no wants, I, I'm the, the who walked who the most in, in Id, I think six. And yeah, I, it i three times my short career, the, the record of the guy who hikes the most.
But, but at this time I think I hiked and I didn even my didn't use my, and I was in the, and so it was Howing, but, but I, I felt ok. But, but, but like you, I, my, my little daughter was, was very young. I, it felt really important to come back. I approached differently for that race.
And I always said to my partners and also my sponsors, I remembered the, at Advent Advances saying, Hey Tom, Tom, you know, just don't go over it. You know, like take, take your, take it easy. No pressure, do your thing, you know, but we want to see you in the end and just take it easy. And so that was, that was great. And, and from the beginning of the, the race, like on the first day I was great cause it was my birthday actually. And so we, I celebrated my birthday at the start of the race and that day I had a really good flight and I, one of my best memory, but that's very personal and that doesn't mean anything, but was at some, we were in front with Pel and with Kleel and other, the ones, I mean everyone was around, but we were in the very front, near Dine.
And I kind of decided to the, because we were side didn't like, okay, I'm gonna risk, you know, just if you wanna fly in the lease side, just do your thing. But I'm going, you know, I'm leaving. So I start flying away and I'm together and I, thermal very smooth, but I get it. And io he sees and glider against Gladder into small and sheet thermal and don't know how, but it kinda loses it.
And I get it. So here I am, like really putting distance between, between and I, you know, and really like building difference. And I Cloudbase and five meters below I'm, and that's a great, everyone is sending me WhatsApps. Yeah, yeah. Everyone is like, happy birthday Tom, you just, you the eagle into, you know, like you left in there and it was, it was pure, you know, like I got, I got into the bubble and I got, it was pure.
It doesn't anything of all that. But for me, it was my birthday, it was the start of the race. I had a really good feeling and it gave me a lot of confidence. I, I kinda felt now just believe in yourself. You know, you just, you just did this and it was interesting. And then we kept, but that evening and then after we flew down to the point and whatever was not so good, the wind was a bit shaky. And, and so I landed and then I didn't have time to it and Fly down side.
So I around and then the day I made interesting, actually second a that cost actually on was with . I, meanie was following me and LOI was with me. And I'm lo and I a off, it's beautiful. It's, and, but then I at the, and I'm, well maybe it's, you know, off kill.
It's, it's, I just have time to go to the next hill. Andy says, oh, I'm, I'm gonna stay here. You know, it's, it's enough, it's a, and whatever. I walked and hike to and I, and it's good. And because they had breeze and their spot was probably better, but I didn't have anything coming up and my take off was, was bad. And I took off and I couldn't climb. And I landed at the, and I saw those two guys flying me just because I wanted to, you know, cover it was ridiculous, you know?
But I thought, okay, this is gonna be, it's on the same ridge. This is gonna be just, I have time to kill. I'm just gonna walk a little more. And then above and they disappeared, ran the takeoff again and I took off. But I was hour late then I thought like gave, I gave all, I had, like I flew as fast as I could and I flew quite well and I caught up with, with Ferdi and Lo I caught up with Maxim and we ferdi all the, to the, and so there we were good.
And actually in the s ed and we left Max behind took a wrong decision and we of left him. So we're okay with my, my one friend Max Pino. We like, okay, max Pino behind is it. So we pretty confident I fews day the day after and built some distance, me and, and the rest of the, of the teams and, and then it was really hard to catch up and was always playing catch catch, catch up.
I'm to catch. And it just didn't work as I wanted to. But, but I had some flight and I, and really enjoyed it. But timing I, my wind the day before all around it, we, we had to hike everything and then it was four hiking and in the right decisions when Ina in the of Osa, the wind blowing hard, like strong know I'm gonna take easy Steve Bra first it the, yeah, yes, Steve, Steve said, Tom, are you sure you don't go to take and I'm, man, it's that the like and stuff took, he broke knee.
Yeah, he quite seriously injured then it, I'm, I'm really bad at with names Mike, Michael Lacher. He right, Michael Michael Lacher la No, it's, no, it's, it's, ah, maybe I don't guys, I, I knowing his name. But anyway, he, he landed crash and broke his hand and on the same day.
And I, and I felt like this is it, you know, I took the right decision not to fly. And, and those two guys are outta the race now. So I was just, I was gaining positions by only being super safe and just wait for, basically for the to crash, which is not a good thing to do. But they, they got in serious trouble and they, yeah. And, and then the next day I flew a and k back the group and to, to guys in front. Yeah, it was and, and was and the day of the race.
And for me that was one of the most beautiful finish. And I, I, I'll end with this, it's, I knew about a, a mountains. I had been there with my, in 2011. And so Mountain hat Lake flew and 50 K and I landed at the bottom. I, I remembered, okay, there's, there's this there still thought I could do it to the, and Fly down, but arrived too.
So almost nine o'clock. And, and I couldn't go walk down to the, to the mountain hat. And I knocked in the door and the woman, the door and I, I just, you remember me? And she said, yes, I do. Right? It's crazy. Wow. And so I was like, yeah, exs was following the exs. So I of the like tracking ed my brother in, so she prepared a big piece of meat. Nine was point hiking down.
It was like I would've hiked all night to just come to the point where I would've land next morning. It was no point doing that. So I just sat there, it like had a beautiful stick, enjoyed evening, sat next to the fire book. It was day, you know, I, a book, I went at 19 and I had a full night in the morning. I woke up at seven. I had A Walk, an to off, waited off in the up the, in the they up.
And they were quite then I off, I flew the three hours, the just enjoying conditions, no wind, beautiful thermals and kinda making peace with the situation. You know, like I didn't have the, I wanted to enjoyed I'm, and, and then I landed what of what's beautiful and race next to the man.
And it, and it, and that's the thing. It's like, that's kinda of the moments that I missed, you know, from the s like the, at the time I remember we would, we would sometimes all of we'll be sitting inside a mountain hat, you know, maybe pilots of thess, you know, in the first days we'll always. And we would share, you know, stories and ok, let's go sleep and then tomorrow's day and, but now there's pressure. People wanna, everyone's pushing you. I I'm, I'm gonna you story. I it's, so we were, I think it was 2000, 2000 think we were in the, and was early in the morning, eight in the morning or something.
Everyone gathered Alex Soer Miller, like of pilots, maybe the top six, seven. Everyone was there. It was the second day. And, and then we were allst you know, it's like this juice parking, apple juice with, and the the Colombian guy inside the, the hat and looks at everyone and you could feel, felt a little bit uncomfortable. He didn't really know what to do and stuff.
And he goes, the TOS beer know, because, cause we were all drinking beers, you with his beer and at, and his beer, it was normal. Like if everyone of us drinking eight in the, and then we'll laughing and we're like, this is so good. And everyone laughs and everyone was super chill about it. But it was like, you could tell this guy came from South America, you know, and he just wanted to, you know, to be part of the whole thing.
But he didn't really know how to, it was so funny. And so he had a bit of beer and we all shared some and then we went off, we, we took off again and, and left. And, but yeah, this is those moments. I i, I cherish the most, you know, with the, the, the feeling that you, the friends you make on the way, you know, the people you spend time with, the other athletes, you, you spend time with, you go through very difficult times together. You support each, you take care of each other. When you see someone going into cloud, you try to, and, and I really love the, and I think it's there and I think it's, it's our responsibility to keep it alive, you know, and help and information and stuff.
I, I know you're in this, like we've, we've been sharing everything we know and then the best will win, you know, this is how I see things, you know, I, we share everything and, and all the information's out there and then the best will win, you know? But, but not everyone thinks like that. You know, I've had some experiences. Yeah, but it's, it's, and it's ok, you know,
Speaker 3 (1h 57m 59s): For the most part though, you're right. And I, you know, the hardest, one of the hardest decisions about not doing it was just missing out on that. You know, as someone who's done the race, you know, we, we know that there's, there's a whole lot of special things, right? There's a lot of things that go in. It's the training in the team and you know, for me it's the, the, the places that you get both mentally and physically that you, you would never get just touring the Alps and flying, you know, you, you get to these very special places that are, you know, for me are gonna be really hard to miss.
But, but a lot of it is just the, the comradery and the, the getting to know people like you and, and, and all the other teams and athletes and it's a, you know, it's, it's a very intense 12 days that leaves its mark. And, you know, a lot of, a lot of my, I dunno trepidation with not doing it because it was a hard decision to not not do another one. You know, there's all the obvious stuff that the training and the time and the money and all the things that, you know, are always tough.
But a lot of it's just missing you guys, you know, just, just not being a part of something so special. Freddie's quite inspirational to me because he took, you know, he took 2019, I believe off, was it 2019 or 2017? I can't remember. But he, you know, he, he, he always as well, but he took, you know, he took the year up and then he came back and I'm kind of hoping that he'll, you know, he'll come back because he's not doing this one too. I'm hoping he'll come back again.
Speaker 2 (1h 59m 38s): I'm thinking, yeah. You know, I would be back. I'm sure. I mean, this is, this is the cool thing about it. It's like you can always come back.
Speaker 3 (1h 59m 48s): Yeah, no, it's a, it's a really special family, you know, it's, and I'm, I'm, I'm excited, so excited to watch you guys throw down again. And Tom, thanks for sharing these wonderful stories. I, I'm, my face is tired. I've been smiling so hard,
Speaker 2 (2h 0m 5s): But I appreciate thank for having me, man. It's, I can see the time running. I'm like, okay. We, it's, it's, it's a thank so much and, and for spreading the, the, the word and you know, like sharing with, with everyone else. I think it's always to share our, our knowledge and it, and the cool thing's that Souths will be. I think that there's a generation coming, you know, with liked athletes and professional approaches and, and we'll a a lot more of, you know, those cool adventures.
And, and, and also there are new races, like, like the rock and races, like, you know, new events and sh you know, peering here and there. That's, that's so toll of BV flying and you know, it's, yeah, it's really booming at the moment. Yeah, it's really taken the sport. There's, there's a lot to do.
Speaker 3 (2h 1m 9s): You know, it's, it's, it's exciting to kind of think of it as kind of the new frontier, but it, it's super exciting. It's been really exciting to watch you over the years and man, stick with it. I'm, I'm glad you're in it again. And thanks Tom, I appreciate
Speaker 2 (2h 1m 25s): It. No, thank you so much. And we talk very soon then. All the best of you,
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