It’s been two weeks since the official end of X-Pyr 2016. My personal experience as participant in this amazing race was too short. On day two I caught a thermal just a few meters off the ground while I was already committed to land and ended up crashing into a barbed wire fence. I was incredibly lucky to have hit a post with my shoes and avoided hitting the spikes with my body. But my paraglider wasn’t as lucky. It was still traveling at a high speed and the barbs caused severe damage to about 25% of my wing.
I considered the situation with Alex, my teammate, and we agreed that it was a complex repair, not something we could just tape up and it was a significant safety risk. We didn’t have a backup glider and it was impossible for us to buy, rent or in any other way get another glider within the next few days. I even told Alex I would pack my damaged glider and walk as far as I could, without the possibility of flying, until the race was over. He smartly talked me out of this idea. We decided to call the Race Director and let him know that we were retiring. Our race was over.
For us X-Pyr involved months of planning, training and dreaming. It wasn’t easy to take a step back and see three amazing athletes and pilots make it all the way to the Mediterranean. But because of my background as a mountaineer I understand that there are variables that are outside of my control, that I can’t change and therefore I should accept and move on. That uncertainty is the nature of adventure races like X-Pyr and that’s part of what draws us. My definition of adventure: a journey in which the outcome is uncertain. X-Pyr is definitely an adventure.
Preparing for the race, and the race itself can be a logistical nightmare for participants and assistants. But it doesn’t compare to the extraordinary effort made by the race organizers. While we have mandatory rest periods from 22:30 to 5:30, they kept going all night looking after us. I’m extremely grateful to Íñigo Redín and his amazing team for putting together such a complex race, and still make it challenging but fun for us. I would also like to thank my teammate Alex for planning and dreaming being a part of this adventure with me. You can always expect him to keep a cool head and a smile, and he won’t disappoint.
So what’s next for me? Paragliding competitions, summiting an unclimbed peak in the Himalayas, marathons, ultra-marathons and multi-stage adventure races in the desert. And that’s just until the first half of next year! But I’m sure that wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, on the back of my mind I will be thinking of X-Pyr 2018 and reaching El Port de la Selva.
X-Pyr team Francu/ Chira says farewell to all involved in this wonderful adventure: participating teams, organizers, volunteers and followers. Congratulations for the 3 teams that finished the race, many compliments for all the organizing staff, big like for Spain in general: people, places, customs, mountains!
Reaching the goal was impossible for us, we struggled with heat, strong winds and rains, but in the end it was fun, sharing this amazing experience with nice people and mountain lovers.
A few days ago the third edition of the X-Pyr finished. But its spirit remains tighly between us, and it will remain, unchanged, although the competition will not be held again - we hope this will never happen -, or even if we don't participate again - although we dream to be there at least once more-.
Thank you very much X-Pyr. Thank you very much Pyrenees. See you... right now!
After a review of all tracks of the race, the race commitee has decided to penalize 2 teams.
- Joao Veiga: Out of the race due to fly into forbidden zone.
- Stephane Garin: Out of the race due to fly into forbidden zone.
In both cases, the scoring distance will be set to last valid point.
The scoring has been recalculated based on this.
I'm back in my comfy office chair, with the glory of the race replay set out before me. My legs will soon forget the punishment that the Pyrenees gave them, especially the final three hours where an unexpected move by Rodrigues left me no option but to ignore the pain and march along the road.
Many of my compatriots were involved in a similar struggle, right till the last minute.
My supporter James was a big part of my endurance: always jovial, quick to find me, feed me, and to hike up yet another hill, on short sleep.
I'm proud we didn't withdraw, but as we only reached half way on the massive course, I feel as if the challenge is unfinished. This feeling is intensified when I watch how soundly we were all beaten by the leading trio. During the race, I had no idea just how far and how fast they had gone.
I gave it everything, for a long time, but it wasn't nearly enough. For me to be effective and safe in such a race, much more training is required. Mountain marathons, mountain orienteering, and above all, lots of mountain flying.
I take small comfort from the fact that I finished ahead of Inigo Gabiria, a local Spanish legend and winner of the 2012 edition, who also struggled to make headway in the strong winds we faced.
The race replay is a brilliant tool, and I'll be studying it for many days to come, learning what routes worked best, where the flying opportunities were, and watching how Maurer mastered this wild and wonderful landscape.
That was the toughest thing I've ever attempted. Truly unforgettable.
Thanks to Flybubble for their support, and Inigo and the XPYR team for good organisation.
Again a long walking day! I’m really looking forward for some flying weather.
After a long hike up of 1900m from Plan to Puig Alfar, I could do a short flight down
to the valley of Benasque. The conditions were not really ideal to do a longer
flight with 2 nimbus clouds around me. Then Zlatko and I joined forces to do a
crazy walk over the pass to France. Visibility 0, rain non-stop, a trail that
was not really a trail but more a suicide path, I broke one of my poles with a
mis-step, hurt my knee and froze my ass off in the mist. But we arrived luckily alive
in Vallee du Lys late in the evening. This was one of my most dangerous moments in the race.
Day 7- Last day, up to Cécire, in the clouds. When we arrived on the take off the sky opened so we could fly until the pass. Finally the race ended for me just before Vielha. I really enjoyed the race, a report with my impressions will follow later.
Last day and the conditions were not very safe to fly so we decided to go for the TP6 by foot. Jesse was coming up on my tail and sadly he had to throw the parachute, fortunately with no consequences. Finally we are very happy for finishing in the fourth position, and it has been a pleasure to participate again in the X-Pyr and share it woth such a bunch of high level pilots. Congratulations to the organization and to all the pilots. Thank you for this superb week.