Afterthought to X-Pyr 2016

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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.

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