Ten days into the 2011 Red Bull X-Alps, and Christian Maurer has become the first athlete along with his paraglider to cross the border into France and is closing in on victory. At the obligatory rest period, between 23:00 and 04:00 CET, the Swiss athlete was 67km away from the finishing point in Monaco with Romania's Tomo Coconea leading the chase in second position.
Britain's Jon Chambers is another of the pilots hot on the heels of the race leader, the 36 year old is currently in fifth place, 200km behind the leader. Perched on the Stelvio Pass, the Englishman has beem doing what he can to try to keep warm in his thin clothing as he waits to cross the border. “A few minutes ago the sun was shining but now the clouds have rolled in again,” said Chambers earlier today. “I've got to wait for better weather before I can take off with my glider.”
Chambers is taking part in the gruelling 864km event for the very first time and is eagerly anticipating the coming days as he prepares to fly across the alps, although he admits that he needs to regularly recharge his batteries. “If you want to make it through the Red Bull X-Alps to Monaco, then you've got to get enough sleep”, he added.
Although he is making his Red Bull X-Alps dÃ©but, Chambers has competed in top-level competitions for the last 15 years but admits the enjoyment is the main reason he continues to test his body to the limit.
“When you're young, you're just going out there to have fun and to fly. But in the meantime I've accumulated a lot of hours flying,” he added. “But there's still a lot of scope for fun too.”
A live leaderboard and map of the route tracking the athletes' progress is available at www.redbullxalps.com/live-tracking.html.