Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Meet the team

As we had the chance to get out walking together at the weekend I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce you to 'Team GB' in the 2013 X-Alps:

On the left is Richard Chambers, my father and supporter in the last X-Alps race. A veteran of multiple endurance races including the Marathon des Sables, the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail and the Jungle Ultra-Marathon (despite being retired at the time he still finished 9th overall in that one!) he certainly knows the hardship and psychology of multi-day endurance events. He also counts 24 years of paragliding experience to his name so certainly knows a thing or two about flying, but does admit to being a 'club pilot' - enjoying somewhat gentler flying than the X-Alps is likely to entail. During the race he will once again be taking on the role of keeping me fuelled, clothed and motivated during the race. He will be in charge of the team vehicle and making sure we have all the supplies and equipment we need at the right time.

On the right is Tom Payne, veteran of the 2009 X-Alps where he competed as an athlete in the race. Also no stranger to endurance racing, he has completed the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix) ultra-trail among others. One of the top British pilots, Tom is often seen in Paragliding World Cup events and recently represented Britain in the 2012 European Championships. Tom has been flying for 17 years and is one of the best cross country pilots flying in the northern French Alps, having come in the top few of the national XC league (CFD - Coupe Federale Distance) in 2010 and 2011. Tom's chief role on the team will be weather forecasting, race strategy, flight planning and communication - keeping the diary updated with our progress and regularly posting pictures and video.

Between Dad and Tom they will share the tasks of driving the support vehicle and accompanying me on some of the walks in order to carry additional clothing, water and food.

Finally, in the middle is me, Jon Chambers. Funnily enough I'm the athlete in this race. I say that because both my 'supporters' have more endurance racing experience than me, my Dad's been flying longer than me and Tom's flown in higher level competitions than me! Still, I have 22 years of flying experience myself, most of which has been acquired in the Alps. I started competing at National level way back in 1995 but only really found my niche in the 2011 X-Alps - a race that seemed to suit my style and mentality. I finished 5th last time! My role in the race? I just have to fly, walk, sleep and eat. The other two have the hard jobs!

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