RED BULL ELEMENTS FIRSTHAND
26. 09. 2018
On Wednesday, after noon, we set off from Ostrava. On the way, we will pick up Martin and Adam in Prague and head across Germany and Switzerland, straight to the French lake, Annecy, in the Haute-Savoie region. We will stop to see the sunrise at the vantage point, named Saleve, near Geneva, and, in the morning, meet with the rest of the group in Doussard. A quick breakfast, pack our things and set off for the first training at the race track. All the necessary facilities are in the town of Talloires, on the bank of the lake Annecy, where another Czech team will accompany us at the Chalet de l’Aulp – it is at this place where the race track of runners, cyclists and paragliders cross.
Firstly, we take several team group pictures and then we split up to practice each on his own track. Tom practices landing on a small hill right infront of the Chalet, and having done that, he flies down to Talloires to explore the rest of the track. Martin heads to the top of La Tournette where he will finish his running part and pass the baton to the paraglider. Dominik brushes up on the technique of downhill on the MTB track and Kuba goes to try the temperature of the water in the lake. In the afternoon, we are also able to make it to the registration. On Friday we tune up the last details, take part in the race briefing, have dinner and an early bed.
Tom, the paraglider, wakes up first, having a two-hour walk up to the Chalet de l’Aulp, on top of the La Tournette, ahead of him. After Tom, our runner, Martin, with Kuba, the swimmer, who kicks-off the race at 9:00, get out of bed, and the last one to get up is our biker, Dominik, who has got plenty of time until his start.
The first discipline is swimming in the lake Annecy. The swimmers have to do two 750m swimming stretches, interlaced with 400m runs, and the final 1500 metres long stretch, after which they pass the baton to the runners. It is the first swimming stretch, and Kuba swims in the leading group, and in the two following stretches, he loses contact with the first two swimmers, passing the baton in third place, five minutes behind the leader.
Martin takes the baton here, heading straight towards the top of La Tournette – this means nearly a 2000 metres elevation difference for the distance of 11 km, which implies that it is basically uphill running only. Despite health issues with his ankle, Martin delivers a brave and decent performance, and, on the hilltop, he passes the baton in around 10th place.
The first stretch of the paragliding part leads to the very top of La Tournette. Tom has to get there by Via Ferrata. This spot is the initial paragliding lift-off area. He will have two more similar places along the track. To get to the first landing area, he descends a kilometre of altitude to the Chalet de l’Aulp. Then he has to run some 400 m, following with the second lift-off, which ends in Perroix, a two-kilometre uphill-run with a 400 m elevation difference and the final lift-off with the landing area at the pier on lake Annecy. The runs and flights themselves are not any trouble for Tom, the first and second lift-off is successful on second go, but at the final landing, he misses the pier by a metre and ends up in the water. Luckily enough, his paraglide lightly lands on the pier, so the delay is not of any significant. Under the Red Bull gate, Tom passes the baton to Dominik, sending him out on the very last part in 7th place.
The bike track leads back to the Chalet de l‘Aulp, being 21 km long with a 1 500 m elevation difference. Besides steep rides uphill and downhill, the track also includes lots of stretches where the racers have to push their bikes. Dominik sets off for his stretch with a fairly high pace and gradually catches up with the bikers ahead of him. After almost two hours on the track, he brings the KILPI RACING TEAM baton to the finish in overall 5th place.
Getting onto the winners‘ podium was not anywhere near, but despite this, we are satisfied with the result and, at least, we have motivation to perform even better. Other Czech teams also did pretty well: the ČEZ Group took 2nd place and the Ideacollection-PureCoco team finished 3rd. In the evening, the final ceremony took place, then dinner and an after-party. On Sunday morning, we pack up and set off for the 15-hour way back home.