James Elliott is representing B.C. as he competes in X-Alps, known as one of world’s hardest adventure races, where competitors paraglide, hike and run their way to the finish.
“I’ve had a lifelong infatuation with flight. As a child, I would climb trees to be closer to the sky” Elliott told Black Press Media in a phone interview from Germany.
He has always loved flying, but it wasn’t something he pursued as a sport until his late 20s on a chance trip to Spain that he found a paragliding training course . He has been paragliding ever since and that trip started his journey to compete in X-Alps.
X-Alps spans 1,223 kilometres and five countries, taking place from June 11- 25. The race consists of running, hiking and paragliding each day. The race was founded in 2003 by late fellow adventurer Hannes Arch and has been happening every two years since, making this year the 20th anniversary of the race’s inception.
Elliott gained most of his flying time in his home base of Pemberton, which he says to this day is one of the most picturesque places he’s flown.
Being the only Canadian in the field of 30 athletes puts James in the elite company with only a small number of Canadians to ever compete in this race.
“It’s really cool to be selected, especially coming into a European sport on European soil and being able to compete.” said Elliott, he also hoped that his competing would inspire others to want to enter the sport and grow it in Canada.
It takes more than just an athlete to finish this race, according to Elliot. In this sport, there are also supporters, who follow the athlete in an RV and relay weather patterns to help with strategy and even cook food among many other responsibilities. “Sometimes the supporters job is harder than an athlete,” Elliot said, it really is a team effort to finish a race like this.
“Just getting in that flow state with my team,” Elliot said when asked what he is most looking forward to as a rookie in this race. Getting into a rhythm and being in a state where working as a team is natural is something that Elliott said he loves about racing in general.
This year’s competition includes live tracking technology for avid fans.
“We have also created a state-of-the-art viewing experience for fans and spectators watching who can follow every minute of the action via Live Tracking.” said, race co-founder Ulrich Grill.