Once again, the Dolomitenmann proved to be one of the gnarliest races on the planet. Featuring mountain running, paragliding, Kayaking, and MTB, this 4-person relay puts the most extreme endurance athletes to the test in the iconic Dolomites mountain range. Rocky terrain, shifty winds, big water, and a massively steep uphill run are just some of the extreme elements that competitors had to face. In other words, this race is not for the faint of heart.
The Red Bull Dolomitenmann is billed by its organizers as "the world's toughest team relay race".
The race is held yearly in September in the East Tyrolean, or Dolomite Mountains of Austria, near the city of Lienz. The founder and organiser is Werner Grissmann, a former World Cup skier and self-proclaimed "tough guy". 110 teams typically start the race each year.
Each team consists of a mountain runner, a paraglider, a whitewater kayaker, and a mountain biker, racing in that order. The course varies slightly each year according to weather conditions and the mountain runner typically runs and climbs a few thousand feet from a start line that is already far above sea level. The actual running distance is usually around 12 kilometres (7.5 mi), but that is far less challenging than the change in elevation.
When the runner makes the hand-off to the team’s paraglider, he must also run, this time with his whole equipment to the first take-off point. After descending by air to Moosalm, the paraglider runs (again!) to a second take-off point, descending to Leisach where the kayaker is ready and waiting.
The teams kayaker swims across the river Drau where his boat is stationed. His first maneuver is an "alpine-start", or a drop off a 7 metres (23 ft) ramp to the river. After the jump the kayaker must navigate a difficult white water track on the river Isel before handing off to the mountain biker.
The mountain biker typically climbs 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) or more, over a distance of about 27 kilometres (17 mi). After the climb, the mountain biker must ride a downhill track to the finish. The winning team collected 15,000 Euros in 2002.
The Dolomitenmann relay race has been run yearly since 1988. In recent years the race has been sponsored by the manufacturers of Red Bull energy drink and is now known as Red Bull Dolomitenmann.