40 nations, more than 1,000 participants and five nationalities winning titles in five categories made the inaugural Red Bull 400 World Championships on Germany’s largest natural ski jump a truly global event.
Record winner in the world’s toughest 400m, Ahmet Arslan from Turkey, lived up to expectations and took the trophy in the men’s category, winning his 14th race in 15 attempts in 03m 31.1s. The fastest woman on the 400m-long track with a 35% incline was Yukari Tanaka from Japan in 04m 54.2s.
4,500 enthusiastic spectators and athletes from five continents including countries like Botswana, Djibouti, Uzbekistan, Lithuania and New Zealand turned the ski jump in Titisee-Neustadt into a fitting arena to crown the world’s best 400m uphill runners.
In a tight fight for the crown, multiple European mountain-running champion Arslan bettered his own track record by 9s to become the discipline’s first world champion only 1.8s ahead of his strongest rival Anton Palzer, a ski climber from Germany. “It’s my 14th win, but it has never been so difficult,” says the 31-year-old from Antalya, “I won the first-ever Red Bull 400 race in 2011 and today I won the first world title.” Austria’s Jakob Mayer completed the podium in 3m 35.4s.
It was 21-year-old cross country skier Tanaka, from the land of the rising sun, winner of the Japan's Red Bull 400 challenge in Sapporo, who took the women’s title ahead of Katarina Lovrantova from Slovakia (05m 02.2s) with German Sarah Mittelberger (05m 21.0s) taking the bronze.
Alongside the full-distance categories, the relay teams in the men’s, mixed and firefighters categories tested their speed, endurance and team spirit. With an outstanding effort it was Czech Republic’s Ask Slavia Praha who took the men’s team event in just 2m 04.9s. The mixed event went to German team Run For Hospiz in 2m 43.8s, while the fastest firefighters overall (2m 15.4s) were Rutzenmoos Bwg 3 from Austria.
In Germany's picturesque Black Forest, the Hochfirstschanze of Titisee-Neustadt is surrounded by green woods and embedded in peaceful rolling hills. In winter this venue is home to the world’s elite ski jumpers, but not on this bright-shining summer Saturday.
Starting their races where the Slovenian ski jumper Domen Prevc landed his 148m hill record in March 2016, amateurs as well as professional athletes from various disciplines fought through the steeply sloped turf. The runners stormed up the 400m race track conquering a slope of up to 35º (70%) until they finally reached the finish line on top of the hill after 140m of elevation.
This debut World Championships represented not only participants from all over the world – 24 European nations plus 16 countries from the rest of the globe – but also an age range from 16 to 72. From the 1,000+ participants in the men's, women's and relay classes, only those 70 with the fastest times after pre-runs and semi-finals qualified for the final.
In 2017 Red Bull 400 is hosted in 14 venues all across Europe, Asia and North America between May and October.