The old-school shots from Dolomitenmann

When men were ‘Dolomiten’ men – the best shots from 25 years of the iconic adventure race.
Overview of the stop-over point for paragliding at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
Mountainrunners making their way up © Sportclub Dolomitenmann
By Tarquin Cooper

Look what we found! Red Bull Dolomitenmann kicks off this weekend and, to celebrate, we had a look in the archives of this iconic race – the world's toughest team event – to revisit its epic history.

It's fair to say we found some real gems. The race has changed little over the years. Dolomitenmann is a team relay race in which athletes run, paraglide, mountain bike and kayak over the challenging terrain of the Lienz Dolomites.

But, boy, the outfits and gear have! Mountain bikes with caliper brakes, 80s-style spandex leggings? Look back and wonder...

The start

Headbands, moustaches, and garish colours. Oh, yes, you've got to love the 80s. The first Dolomitenmann took place in 1988. Here runners get ready at the Hauptplatz, Lienz.

A participant running at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann 1992.
Red Bull Dolomitenmann start © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Pillars of strength

Some things don't change. Okay, those trainers belong in a museum, but the mountain runners still need to demonstrate the same determination and strength as they ever did in the running stage, which begins in Lienz and covers approximately 2,000m of ascent.

A participant running between stone pillars at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
Stone pillars marking the track © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Style alert, part 1

This may be the only time in the race's history where snow covered the route, but there is something far more eye-opening in this image – that purple ski suit. People wore this stuff? Fashion faux pas today, but back in the day, shiny onesies were the height of cool.

Snow during the mountain running discipline at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann
Snow marks the route for the only time © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Start alert, part 2

Style police: arrest this man! It's difficult to imagine a time when it was acceptable to run in an all-red onesie. But this was 1992 and it must have been very cold. What was this athlete thinking? Painting the town red, of course.

A participant running at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann 1992.
Fashion fail, 1992 © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Take to the skies

After the mountain run, athletes 'pass the baton' to paragliders who then descend to Moosalm, before taking off again and flying back down to the valley floor.

Paragliders preparing and starting during the Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
Paragliding preparation © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Aerial view

A hallmark of Red Bull Dolomitenmann is its appeal with spectators and fans who flock to the area to watch the world's top adventure athletes battle it out every year.

Overview of the stop-over point for paragliding at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
Preparing to take off in the paragliding stage © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Back then...

You have to love those leggings, but look what they conceal? The iron calf muscles of Alfons Hörhager taking off at the start of the paragliding stage. Can you guess the year?

Alfons Hörhager starting with his paraglide at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann in 1997.
Alfons Hörhager giving it some retro style © / Ulrich Grill

And now...

The pilots in Red Bull Dolomitenmann have included some of the world's best. Taking part this year again will be the Red Bull X-Alps athlete Paul Guschlbauer, a previous Dolomitenmann winner in 2010 and 2013.

Paul Guschlbauer performs at the Dolomitenmann in Lienz, Austria on September, 7th 2013.
Paul Guschlbauer under the wing at Dolomitenmann. © Mirja Geh / Red Bull Content Pool

Give the man a hand

Mountain biking fans, feast your eyes – remember the days when the travel on front suspension was a maximum 100mm or life before disc brakes? And those heavy pre-carbon frames and skinny tyres. This was only 15 years ago.

The kayaker of Team Red Bull helping his team mate at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
A push start for a mountain-biker in 1998 © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Over the handlebars

And this is the reason bike manufacturers thought maybe adding suspension might be a good idea.

A participant crashing during the Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
Hardtail fail © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Hard man on a hardtail

Incredible to think of the days when mountain bikes didn't have any suspension at all. Here, Sigi Hochenwarter cranks it on a retro steed in the 1996 edition.


Hochenwarter Sigi performing at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann 1996.
Sigi Hochenwarter at the 1996 Dolomitenmann © / Ulrich Grill

Long drop

The famous seven-metre jump near Lienz: this is still an iconic part of the
kayak course today.

A Kayaker diving into the water during the Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
The kayak course begins with a 7m drop © Sportclub Dolomitenmann

Rapid charge

A kayaker powers through the rapids in the 1996 edition. Photo buffs, this was shot on slide in the days when you couldn't just press and hold the shutter, and it shows on those deep retro colours. Instagram not required...  


A kayaker performing at the Red Bull Dolomitenmann 1996.
Descending the rapids in 1996 © / Ulrich Grill

Get more classic stories and the best adventure photography from the App. Download at

Next Story