Christian Maurer launches during the Red Bull X-Alps in Champery, Switzerland on June 21, 2019.
© Honza Zak/Red Bull Content Pool

New flying and sailing records plus a daring climb in adventure news

The latest on the TransAlp and TransRockies bike races, climbing the Shard, sailing and gyrocopter records and adventure racing’s European Championships.
Written by Will Gray
9 min readPublished on
July a big month for mountain biking, with two of the world’s biggest endurance events taking place – one through the heart of the European Alps and one across the Rocky Mountains in Canada.
Meanwhile, Europe is preparing for two big adventure races – the European Championships and the ‘return’ of the Raid Gauloises – and in London an urban climber has just scaled the Shard without ropes.
On the water, two sailors have just completed the first non-stop unassisted circumnavigation of mainland Britain by dinghy and in the air Norman Surplus has finally completed his round-the-world gyrocopter flight.

Free climbing teen scales The Shard

A 19-year-old urban climber has scaled Europe’s tallest building, the 310m-high Shard skyscraper in London, without ropes or a harness in one of the most impressive building climbs ever attempted.
George King is a well-practised urban free soloist and became the first person to free climb the world's tallest climbing wall, the 37m high Bjoeks Climb Center in the Netherlands, last year. But this 45-minute ascent was his “dream” from the time he first laid eyes on the Shard as a 13 year old on a school trip to London.

Biking battles on two sides of the Atlantic

Mountain Bikers participate in the TransRockies MTB race in North America.
There are sure to be beautiful vistas during the TransRockies
July is a big month for mountain biking – with two of the world’s most legendary long-distance endurance events taking place in the biggest mountain ranges each side of the Atlantic.
In Europe, the 550km TransAlp race will begin on July 14 with a field of up to 1,000 riders setting off from Tux, in Austria’s Zillertal region, and racing through the Dolomites for seven days to the finish at Italy’s Lago di Molveno.
The stage race, which was first run in 1998, covers 550km with 18,500m of elevation and has always been a team event – but this year a prize for the fastest individual will be awarded for the first time in the event’s history.
One week later, Canada will welcome the return of the 550km TransRockies Classic, a stage race that was originally based on the TransAlp event and ran from 2002 until it stopped in 2013.
The seven-day race will see up to 300 riders tackle some of the most remote trails in the Rockies, crossing the continental divide from Panorama Mountain Resort to Fernie, in British Colombia.

Auto Gyro record hots up

In April, we wrote about James Ketchell’s bid to become the first person to circumnavigate the world solo in a gyrocopter – but he has been beaten to it by adventurer Norman Surplus, who started his journey almost 10 years ago.
Surplus gave up on his original record attempt in 2015 after failing to get access to Russian airspace – but at the time he transited to the US and continued his journey back to his starting point in Northern Ireland.
Norman Surplus lands his gyrocopter in Larne
Norman Surplus lands his gyrocopter in Larne
After seeing news of the new attempt, Surplus decided to fill in the missing 8,000km gap in his journey and claim the record for himself – so he joined Ketchell on his Russian leg, then flew on to the west coast of the US.
Norman Surplus flying over Greenland's glaciers.
Norman Surplus flying over Greenland's glaciers
Ketchell, meanwhile, can still achieve the first continuous circumnavigation and is now back on track in the second half of his journey after making an emergency landing on a road in Canada during heavy storms.

Pair complete record round-Britain sail

Will Hodshon and Rich Mitchellon on their Nipegegi sail boat
Will Hodshon and Rich Mitchellon on the Nipegegi
Two endurance sailors have completed the first non-stop unassisted sail around mainland Britain in a dinghy – taking just 15 days to complete the 2,237km journey in their 60-year-old boat, the Nipegegi.
Will Hodshon and Rich Mitchell comfortably beat the fastest dinghy time of 28 days, set in 2006 in a multihull vessel and the fastest monohull record of 32 days, set in 2014, both of which weren't non-stop unassisted.

Trophies and accolades for Adventure Racing

The absence of the cancelled Adventure Racing World Championship this year means Poland’s Adventure Trophy – which is host to the European Championships – is one of the sport’s flagship events in 2019.
The 500km non-stop multi-day race begins on July 15 and runs through six different National Parks in Poland, with the traditional kayaking, trekking and mountain biking events joined by inline skating and caving challenges.
“The race will be very demanding,” said race director Maciej Mierzwa. “The weather might be the biggest challenge because July is the month of storms – and when it starts to rain the fun begins.”
Meanwhile, the legendary Raid Gauloises – which is often considered the first modern adventure race – celebrates its 30th anniversary by making a comeback in the South of France on July 13.
The event was first held in New Zealand in 1989 then moved around the world until its last run in Kyrgyzstan in 2003. This year’s, however, will be a shadow of its former self, with just 55km of racing over one weekend.

New gear: Rock-hard graphene-soled shoes

Image of the Inov the Roclite G275 running shoe
The Roclite G275
Graphene is a revolutionary material that does just about everything from storing energy to making aeroplane parts – and in this case it’s used to create ultra light, ultra tough shoes for ultra runners.
Running shoe innovators inov-8 use the tough material on the outsole of the soon-to-be released Trailroc G280. Until that new flagship arrives, the Roclite G275s is the graphene shoe to get.

Maurer wins Red Bull X-Alps for sixth time

Christian Maurer finishes the Red Bull X-Alps 2019 in Peille, France on June 25, 2019
Congratulations to Christian Maurer on his X-Alps triumph
Swiss ultra athlete Christian ‘Chrigel’ Maurer took an astonishing sixth consecutive victory in the ninth edition of the Red Bull X-Alps after nine days of racing through extreme weather from snowstorms to 35 degree Celsius heat.
Maurer built a crucial 100km lead in the 1,138km race when he managed to be the only competitor to fly in and out of the highest Turnpoint before the weather closed in, saving his legs a 2,000m ascent on foot.
After reaching the finish near Monaco he said: “My body worked well and my team worked well so I could race fast. It was an easier start with the flying conditions, but…the last two days were [not flyable] so it was a hard end.”

10-year old climbs El Capitan

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California, USA during filming of The Dawn Wall in January 2015.
The imposing El Capitan
Selah Schneiter has become the youngest person to climb El Capitan after ascending the famous Nose route at the age of 10 – following in the tracks of her parents, who met while scaling the climb 15 years before.
Schneiter, who stands just 1.25m tall and took on the climb with her father, an American Mountain Guides Association-certified rock guide and instructor, had been preparing for the 3,000ft climb since last year.
The 31-pitch route took the pair five days to complete and Selah told The Guardian: “If you have a big goal…you have to do it piece by piece. The only thing I ever got scared of was what would happen if I didn’t do this.”

Egloff smashes Jornet’s Denali record

Mountaineer Karl Egloff has smashed Kilian Jornet’s fastest time on the ascent of North America’s tallest summit, Denali, as he continues to tick off speed climbs on the Seven Summits.
Following a failed attempt last year, Egloff beat the previous best by two hours five minutes, taking 9hrs 45mins from base camp to summit. He also beat Jornet’s round-trip by a minute – despite coming down on foot not skis.
It was the fourth of the seven summits for Egloff, who said: “The mountain showed character with temperatures around -30 degrees Celsius and strong winds of 40-50kph that tested our minds and also brought tears a few times.”

Australian starts Hawaii solo swim

Australian Terence Bell will next week begin an attempt to become the first person to swim around the entire coast of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i in a bid to raise awareness of ocean plastic pollution.
The 100-mile swim is the first challenge of its kind Bell has ever tried but he hopes monotony will get him through. “On long ocean swims I often count my strokes, 1 to 10, or repeat the mantra ‘I am swimming’,” he said.

Wainwright record crumbles

Ultra runner Paul Tierney has set a new fastest time for one of the UK’s most famous running challenges – a 318-mile fell run topping all 214 of Alfred Wainwright’s legendary Lake District Peaks.
Paul Tierney as seen during the Lake District Peaks running challenge in 2019.
Paul Tierney about to summit Helm Crag (summit number 88 of 214)
Tierney ran almost non-stop with minimal sleep and completed the route, which covers the equivalent of four ascents of Mount Everest, in six days and six hours, seven hours faster than Steven Birkinshaw’s previous best.
“The hardest bit was definitely the lack of sleep,” he said. “I think I averaged just two hours of sleep in every 24 hours. There were times I thought I’m not sure if I can do this anymore, but I just kept pushing on.”
Paul Tierney climbing the steps to the finish line at Moot Hall Keswick
Finish line in sight for Paul Tierney

Alistair Brownlee hits Ironman ground running in full-distance debut

Two-time Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee has snapped up a place in October’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii after stepping up to win on his full-distance debut in Ireland.
The 31-year-old Briton, who claimed silver in the Ironman 70.3 Worlds last year, won in 7hrs 49mins 20s but ‘only’ had to take on the 180km bike and marathon run after the 3.8km swim was cancelled for safety reasons.
But Brownlee said: “I’d have preferred a swim to make my day easier. The course drags on, especially in the second half of the bike. Kona (will be) a bit of a learning experience and see how it goes.”

Big Event: Ironman Europe

The men's field gets ready for the swim at the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA on October 13, 2018.
Participants at Ironman Europe will be looking to qualifying for the Worlds
This weekend’s Ironman European Championships take place in the German city of Frankfurt, offering Europe’s best competitors their biggest chance of securing a place in October’s World Championships in Kona.
The field of 59 Pro men and 19 Pro women will start with a 3.8km swim of the Langener Waldsee, take on 185km of urban and hillside bike trails and finish with a 42km four-lap flat run through crowds of spectators on the river.
See this year’s event live on Facebook Watch

New gear: Carry-on convenience

Image featuring Osprey's Transporter Global Carry On baf
The Osprey Transporter Global Carry-on bag
Summer flight routes open up a whole range of destinations for adventurers – but if you want to avoid the baggage queues and make the most of a quick weekend away, you need a convenient carry-on bag.
The Osprey Transporter Global Carry-on, which is a EU-regulation sized pack, does the job, with a clamshell opening for easy gear access and a harness and hip belt for comfy carrying. It’s even got a padded laptop sleeve – so you can turn any work trip into a long weekend.

Hot Insta Handle: @sav.cummins

Savannah Cummins only picked up a camera for the first time in 2014 and since then she's been on some incredible expeditions. From joining legendary climbers Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker on an expedition to Antarctica, documenting Katie Bono’s speed record on Denali, and travelling to the Kashmir region of Northern India on an all-female first ascent expedition. Follow her feed for all your mountain needs.