Sky-High Adventure Racing: Elite Paragliders Take On the Pyrenees Traverse

CAMPING GEAR

This weekend, one of the toughest hike-and-fly rallies on Earth returns for its fifth run. Six days, 376 miles, and a remarkably stacked field — X-Pyr 2022 is one paragliding race you won’t want to miss.

On June 26 at 10 a.m. CEST, 45 seasoned paragliders will launch from Spain’s Atlantic coast for a multiday hike-and-fly race. Supported by just one personal ground operator each, the pilots will attempt to navigate 370-plus miles over the Pyrenees range. The first paraglider to pass through all nine race waypoints and land on the Mediterranean coast wins.

After a 4-year hiatus, the X-Pyr is coming back tougher and more competitive than ever before. Here’s what you need to know.

(Photo/X-Pyr) paragliding adventure race
(Photo/X-Pyr)

X-Pyr 2022 Route

The trajectory for 2022 charts teams through a winding course from Hondarribia on the Bay of Biscay to the eastern beaches of El Port de la Selva, Spain. Pilots must navigate to and “tag” all nine points along the route.

“It’s longer, more complex, more international, and more challenging!” race officials stated.

(Photo/X-Pyr) paragliding adventure race
X-Pyr 2022 kicks off on June 26, 2022, from the Bay of Biscay in Spain; (photo/X-Pyr)

Flight Path Plot Twist

The X-Pyr organizers have completely revamped the flight path and concentrated four waypoints near the 200-mile mark. The four points form an X-like configuration, and pilots must reach each point in exact order, from southwestern Peña Montañesa to northeastern Arbas, then on to northwestern Midi de Bigorre, and finally southeastern El Corronco.

The sequence requires pilots to turn back on their path and tag midrace turnpoints before traversing the Pyrenees enchainment’s main spine and continuing east.

Race Waypoints

  • Hondarribia – 0-ft. elevation, mile 0
  • Larun – 2,854-ft. elevation, mile 9
  • Accous – 3,950-ft. elevation, mile 68
  • Peña Montañesa – 8,176-ft. elevation, mile 119
  • Arbas – 3,560-ft. elevation, mile 168
  • Midi de Bigorre – 9,442-ft. elevation, mile 205
  • El Corronco – 8,343-ft. elevation, mile 253
  • Pic dels Moros – 6,798-ft. elevation, mile 313
  • Santa Helena de Rodes – 1,765-ft. elevation, mile 374
  • El Port de la Selva – 0-ft. elevation, mile 376

Rules

The a priori rule of X-Pyr is this: pilots must always carry the minimum amount of equipment with them. A minimum paragliding kit includes the glider, harness, parachute, helmet, mobile phone, and live tracking equipment.

Unlike most other adventure races, the X-Pyr does not fiddle with stages. Pilots are permitted to move up to 14 hours per day.

The official cutoff is Saturday, July 2. Any teams that have not reached Porta de la Selva by then will receive a DNF.

Athletes

This year’s field of competitors features a handful of winning paragliding pilots. Among its seasoned, nonprofessional veterans is award-winning American filmmaker Cedar Wright.

Notably, only one female pilot, Kinga Masztalerz of New Zealand, makes the lineup.

The race’s most decorated pilots include Pierre Remy (France), who was the 2017 Paragliding World Cup overall champion; Maxime Pinot (France), who previously placed second at X-Pyr 2018; and the indomitable Chrigel Maurer (Switzerland), who has won basically all the gold hardware available in the sport at some point or other.

(Photo/X-Pyr) paragliding adventure race
(Photo/X-Pyr)

Live Tracking: How to Watch

Anybody wishing to follow the race can use X-Pyr’s live tracking platform, which includes 3D rendering of pilot positions. Learn more about the 2022 sky-high adventure race at X-pyr.com or @xpyrrace on Instagram.

And come back next week for GearJunkie’s wrap on this year’s race results.

Persons hand pointing to a spot on a map during a USARA Adventure Race.
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