Normal life is gradually returning after the X-Alps and the post race recovery period. Dad and I are starting to write up our adventures - more information to follow in due course. In the mean time I just wanted to pass on my long overdue thanks:
Firstly to the fantastic support we had from equipment sponsors:
Lyon Equipment in the UK provided a Petzl leighweight helmet, which was perfect for the race.
New Concept Sports in Geneva gave me discounted race shoes, but more than that, spent literally hours ensuring I had the right shoes and that they were a perfect fit, a process without which my feet would have been in a mess for sure. As it was I was one of the few athletes in the race with feet largely unaffected by the pounding they recieved! Thanks Laurent!
Suunto, as well as sponsoring the event, sponsored me with a training watch including foot pod and heart rate monitor, this together with the training plan from Frederic meant I was well prepared on the start line on July 17th.
High 5 provided all the sports nutrition products we could need, and then some. Their 4:1 endurance formula kept me going day in, day out and their energy bars kept my calorie intake up between the multiple and massive meals I was eating each day. Such great products definately helped me to keep going day after day.
Sup'Air, in Annecy made a fantastic harness (the 'Delight') which weighed in at less than 2kg and was just perfect in comfort and performance. (They've now certified a slightly heavier version of the harness and should go into production soon if any one is interested). They got a new reserve to me at short notice when I was not allowed to fly my 'small' one in the race - thanks guys for the great products and great service!
Ozone. Above all I need to thank Ozone, for the fantastic lightweight M4. The wing was perfect for this race, with excellent performance and ease of handling. It was also much lighter than many other wings thanks to the great attention to detail from Ozone. This wing really is superb.
Pringles Xtreme showed their confidence in me, and demonstrated that this race has widespread appeal and interest way beyond the paragliding community by supporting us with a team vehicle for both the race and a period prior to the race for training and preparation. So much about this race is being well prepared and able to cope with extreme conditions that being able to live in some comfort during the race made all the rest much easier to deal with. I'm certain that having the perfect support vehicle did give us an advantage over many of the other teams. Thanks guys!
Secondly there are some key people I need to thank:
Firstly a thank you to everyone who followed the race, added comments to the guest book and generally wished me well. The fact that thousands of people were following my progress kept me pretty motivated! Also to all those who came out and met me on the course, offered me showers and food, walked with me or even those who just wanted a photo, it was always great to see people!
Thanks to the X-Alps organising committee for organising a great race and to Christoph Weber, who as race director probably had less sleep during the race than we did. He even had to put up with complaints from tired and irritable athletes, including me (sorry!).
I need to say a VERY big thank you to Tom Payne, who helped me get prepared for this race, offered advise and the loan of endless bits of kit from via ferrata connectors to heel lifts! Moreover, he kept me positive throughout the race through his messages of reassurance and encouragement.
My father was the perfect supporter, somehow always knowing what was needed and quietly getting on with stuff. During the race he was a man of action and kept me in good shape physically and mentally through constant food, advise and reassurance. This really is a team event far more than most people probably realise watching on the live tracking and it was great to have such a perfect partner.
Last but not least I need to thank my wife and kids. Competing in the X-Alps is in many ways a selfish endeavour, not least because the training sucked up most of my spare time for about 9 months before we even made it to the month of the race. Their endless support, encouragement and sacrifice, even though it was hard for them, was of course key in getting me to the start line in the right frame of mind. I'm sure I also provided a few opportunities for worry, apologies for that!! I'm extremely lucky to have such a supportive family.
My sincere apologies if I've forgotten anyone, as I said more to come in the future on the race and our experiences.