Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

July 29, 2015

Red Bull X-Alps 2015 Videos

Here's some great videos from the 2015 X-Alps.  Of course there are more and if you want to see them all, then go here for lots of great footage!  http://www.redbullxalps.com/gallery.html

In no particular order.....

A record number of athletes make Monaco this year!

Some great scenery on the first ever Prologue to the X-Alps

Gold (AUT) and I battle it out to avoid elimination on Day 11

The camera catches up to me on the prelude to one of my best flights of the race.

A recap of the 2015 edition of the Red Bull X-Alps

Yes...that MY wing flying over the Dachstein.  Day 1 rocks!

A glimpse of what the leaders are doing while I am walking to Kampenwand

Some amazing flights on these days when I am basically grounded in the Northern Alps

The field spreads out across Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and maybe even France by now....

July 28, 2015

This Video is Why I Applied to the Red Bull X-Alps!

Many people have told me I should do the Red Bull X-Alps someday.  As you can see, I did apply and get in, and had a great race this year!  But it was this video that propelled me to prove that women do want to attempt (and succeed) at some really difficult challenges just like the men :)

July 25, 2015

Sidetracked Article about Red Bull X-Alps and Gavin McClurg

Gavin McClurg was very scientific about his training and preparation for the Red Bull X-Alps.  This is a really cool article about this year's race and the difficulties that I'm sure all teams went through over the 12 days of racing!  And some great photos too.....

July 24, 2015

Former US soldier becomes top female Red Bull X-Alps athlete

From the Red Bull X-Alps Content Pool

Photos by Vitek Ludwig

Former US soldier becomes top female Red Bull X-Alps athlete

Women can compete on equal terms with the guys. That’s the inspiring message brought home by Dawn Westrum (USA2), one of two women to compete in the world’s toughest adventure race for the first time in 10 years.

Westrum may have been eliminated at 06:00 this morning as the last-ranked athlete, with 375km still to go, but she has surpassed expectations, not least her own.

“I’m not even disappointed. I never thought I’d get this far. I had a great race and got further than I thought I’d ever go.”

During one two-day period, which included a non-stop spell through the night, Westrum hiked 115km, a quarter of the total distance she covered on foot.

Race Director Christoph Weber was among the first to celebrate her achievement: “She's proved that she can hike hard and make intelligent decisions in the air and that women can be really strong in this race.”

What makes her achievement all the more remarkable is that Westrum, a former US soldier, has only been flying six years. But what she lacked in experience, she more than made up for in determination and spirit.

“I kept pushing my goals,” she said. “I had been thinking, ‘maybe I get to Germany, maybe I get to Italy,’ but I just kept on going.” Westrum eventually reached Turnpoint 7, the Matterhorn. The last two days saw her finish in style as she enjoyed epic flights over Switzerland, including a 100km flight over the Tessin mountains.

“After Gerald Gold (AUT2) overtook me I just thought, 'you know what, this is my last day, I'm not racing,’ so I flew over the Aletsch Glacier. It was so beautiful and I just hung out there, cruising along. It was the perfect ending to a great race,” she said

July 23, 2015


Red Bull X-Alps race reporter Ed Ewing rounds up the characters of this year's race – their highs, a few lows, and all that is in between

That’s it, the race is over. Two weeks of pain and glory, highs and lows, tears, fears and laughter have come to an end.

The 2015 Red Bull X-Alps was without doubt one of the best and closest races ever. Over 1,000km of terrain 32 athletes battled it out to make Monaco. In the end, 19 of them made it – a record for the Red Bull X-Alps.

Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) made goal first and was crowned champion for an historic fourth time. Can anybody touch him in the future? We’ll have to wait and see.

But while Maurer grabbed Gold, Huber got Silver and Guschlbauer got Bronze, every athlete in the Red Bull X-Alps is a star, every one is a champion in their own right.
Here’s a fun rundown of highlights (and the occasional lowlight) from the 2015 Red Bull X-Alps hall of fame.

Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1): Can he catch him? Yes he can! In the end, no he didn’t but he had a hell of a time trying. Whether launching at dawn from 3,500m on the Matterhorn or racing to circumnavigate the Ecrins way out west, Paul finished the race with style.

Gerald Gold (AUT2): Never give up Gold they will call him! This morning as the clock ticked down he was at the back, but he was pushing forwards on the tarmac. The silverware may have escaped him on the podium, but he’s gold in our heart forever.

Stephan Gruber (AUT3): Gruber’s Grub, a video of Stephan eating an enormous bowl of pasta by his Led Lenser head torch has had over 3,000 views on YouTube. He can eat as well as fly! He is so popular, we are told he had an invitation to see a princess here in Monaco, although we’re not sure what thats all about.

Pascal Purin (AUT4): He makes the girls’ hearts flutter in the Red Bull X-Alps office that’s for sure, so we know he’ll always be a champion for some. Pascal pushed through the pain in his legs to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him. He did some nice flying, too.

Tom de Dorlodot (BEL): Belgian chocolate is the best in its class, and Tom is the best of the Belgians. A tough race this year as he injured his ankle on launch half way through. Hop-along Tom we call him from now on. Or maybe, Hang on in there, we’ll come and get you in a couple of hours mate!

Alex Villa (COL): Hola y bienvenidos to our friend from Colombia, flying the flag for the entire South American continent. He took his athleticism so seriously he was seen carrying a beer to the pilot briefing in Fuschl! That’s the South American way – and we love it.

Stanislav Meyer (CZE): Stan the man! He started so well that we know several people who put money on this guy to win. Cool, calm and collected he was never afraid to lead out and show the way. Chasing Chrigel through the Oetz Valley he hung on to the leaders like a limpet for as long as he could. Credit where credit is due, this guy’s a winner!

Ivan Colas (ESP): The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain… except when it falls in Austria, Italy, Germany… Ivan, you battled on through legs that “felt like rocks” and we salute you for your valiant heart. Viva Espana!

Clement Latour (FRA1): Oh Clement, you never made it, retiring before the race even begun with training injuries. We wanted to see you here! Racing Chrigel and winning! But we know you were watching, so we raise a glass to you too and wish you well.

Antoine Girard (FRA2): Ah, the philosopher of the race, a true French romantic with the looks to match the beating heart of a writer in his garret. You wrote history this race, top landing to beat your team mate with only minutes to spare. A gallic and gallant arrival, although no one has asked Gaspard Petiot (FRA4) what he thinks about that!

Nelson de Freyman (FRA3): Another year, another youngest ever competitor. We warn you, trade on your youth and good looks now, because they don’t last forever! Fortunately you have more to fall back on – your flight from Chamonix to Annecy and your top landing there showed your flying is as cool as your attitude. Chest la classe, as we say en France.

Gaspard Petiot (FRA4): Gasping across the line in fourth you were overtaken in flight by your pal Girard (FRA2). But that didn’t matter - the fact is you never expected to make it this far or so far at all. Your knees weren’t up to it at the start, you said, but that was clearly a little piece of make believe. You made it in one pice – just!

Steve Nash (GBR): Steve, you were 30 when Nelson de Freyman was being born! It’s true! Steve battled the west wind as others found a way to flow with it, but he came back with élan only yesterday, flying through France like a pro. Spiralling in to Annecy Turnpoint from 3,000m was surely a highlight – taking off again and going straight back up again another.

Michael Gebert (GER1): The old guard are the best, and there are few better than Gebert. This was Michael’s fifth race, and although he retired early, we know he is a hero to many – he has blazed the way for a decade in the race, and it is built on the shoulders of those like him.

Yvonne Dathe (GER2): One of only four women ever to have competed in the Red Bull X-Alps, Yvonne kept the pace in the air but on the ground, as she knew, she was never on level ground. But she didn’t give up, and that is what adventure i all about – seeing how far you can go, against yourself as much as others. We loved her two cute dogs in her camper van too.

Sebastian Huber (GER3): Please stand and roar your approval for this gladiator of the Alps, a true Red Bull X-Alps warrior. A farmer, he rose early every day and went out to cut the hay. The hay in this instance being 4,800m Mont Blanc, or the landing mat at Annecy. Huber has legions of new fans out there, and he better get used to his newfound fame. Maurer – you better watch out, because this one is coming for you!

Manuel Nubel (GER4): How is that tree Manu? Manu was stuck at 22km for hours, with the world’s Red Bull X-Alps fans willing him on. We only found out later his tracker was broken – a bit like that branch. He’s here now, he’s happy to be here, and we’re happy he’s here now too.

Aaron Durogati (ITA): Italian style never goes out of fashion, and Aaron is leader of the Red Bull X-Alps style pack. We know you would have loved to stop for an espresso and a biscotti on your way to Monaco, but it’s a good thing you didn’t. You made it here in sixth. A special mention for sportsmanship – he helped Witschi mend his harness after Witschi’s lake swim, which is our spirit writ large.

Chi-Kyong Ha (KOR): Hachi had never seen a mountain higher than 3,000m before this race. He has now! You’ve impressed everyone with your determination and your grit – and your resolution to hang on there and finish. You crossed the line in the dark hours of this morning – unnoticed, you may have thought. We’re here to say that you were.

Ferdinand Van Schelven (NED): The flatlander! Much of the Nederlands is below sea level, so what Ferdy must have thought when he found himself at 4,800m above the Alps we can only imagine. Was it cold up there Ferdy? A resolute and determined spirit, we can only salute you. You have now competed in three Red Bull X-Alps races – consider yourself a veteran.

Nick Neynens (NZL): Forget the jokes about Kiwis being flightless birds, there is no place for that here. Nick took tiger lines to force his way back from near elimination early on, including col busting through alpine giants and flying independently throughout. And what about those jandals! He crossed the line with a skip and a hop – what’s he drinking? Red Bull!

Pawel Faron (POL): It was close but he made it in this morning. Consistent and strong he battled through it, with some good flights and good hikes. Experience shows in this game, and with thee races now under his belt he definitely has that in spade. Pawel too, has earned veteran status this race.

Toma Coconea (ROU): No jokes here. Toma was injured with a broken arm and cuts to the face on landing several days ago and has been in hospital since. He is up and about and hopes to be discharged soon, with no permanent damage expected. Toma has legions of fans at home and around the world. Toma, we salute your bravery and your spirit and wish you a swift and full recovery.

Stephan Kruger (RSA): Stephan took a long line south into Italy. Was this for the pizza, the pasta, or was it the natural homing instinct of a South African bird? We don’t mind which way it was. You had a blast in the Alps, and we’re coming to yours for a flying holiday in Cape Town this winter. See you there!

Christian Maurer (SUI1): Chrigel, anything we say can’t be enough. You have won four Red Bull X-Alps now, and this was your toughest race yet. You showed us again how to fly lines and how to fly fast through the Alps. You are a worthy champion and together with supporter Thomas Theurillat you have again shown the rest of us what is possible. That said, they’ll get you next time!

Samuel Vurpillot (SUI2): All the while, with a smile. Vurpillot, the athlete with ‘pilot’ in his name. You made a great start sprinting out of Mozartplatz, and a good first day in the air. But it all ended too soon and we were sad to see you go.

Michael Witshci (SUI3): Witschi, your reserve ride into the lake will stay with all of us who watched it on Live Tracking for a long time. We’ve been rooting for you ever since. Your spirit shone through that day, when you swam to shore and then got back up the next day to do it all again. And it shone through this morning as you ran to Peille with only an hour to spare. Heart of a hero.

Peter von Bergen (SUI4): Peter from the mountains – you forged your own route and went your own way, flying amazing lines through the mountains that are home. But you were also sick during the race, and helped by Manuel Nubel’s (GER4) supporter, who is a doctor. It is good to see you here… It’s good to see you anywhere!

Erik Rehnfeldt (SWE): Pulled by the lure of the north from where you come, you made tracks that took you that way. It worked out! As others were ground down by the wind, you made it seem easy(er). You pulled out all the stops to get here early this morning. Congratulations on reaching Monaco!

Honza Rejmanek (USA1): Honza, Honza, Honza, Honza. It’s taken four goes, but finally Honza made Monaco! We are so happy, we can’t imagine what he must be feeling. Honza has it in spades, whatever It is. Honza’s been on the podium before, but nothing will have been as sweet as this morning’s fly down to that raft.

Gavin McClurg (USA2): Big Guns McClurg we call him – have you seen those arms? He was out front from the start and no one was having more fun. That is until the last couple of days, when he had ‘The flight from hell’ and had to run 100km to make Peille.

Dawn Westrum (USA3): Dawn, your name is a gift to the Red Bull X-Alps web team: ‘A new Dawn’, ‘Dawn rises’, ‘Dawn at last’. You showed true spirit, grit and talent as you made the race your own, in your own way. Destination Matterhorn was enough, and you did that with style, enjoying everything good about flying in the Alps. Dawn, we’ll see you next time (or tomorrow, about 5.30am).

Dave Turner (USA4): Your reputation as a wildcard is intact. You are still out there, still going, still flying. No raft will meet you in Monaco, no photographer will take your picture. Your race is over, but you are carrying on. Dave, we are with you all the way.

Thank you, and until next time, good bye.

Ed Ewing is editor of Cross Country magazine.


July 22, 2015


From the Red Bull X-Alps Website:  http://www.redbullxalps.com/news/article/dawn-westrum-this-was-the-perfect-ending-to-a-great-race.html

The mandatory elimination of the last ranked team every 48 hours in the Red Bull X-Alps is normally something feared and dreaded by the athletes. But not for Dawn Westrum. It came at just the right time. “It was the perfect ending to a great race,” she said.

The 37-year-old athlete, who's only been flying six years, surpassed many expectations – not least her own – in making it to Turnpoint 7, the Matterhorn.

She adds: “I’m not even disappointed. The last two days have been the icing on the cake. I never thought I’d get this far. I had a great race and got further than I thought I’d ever go.”

”If I did it again I think my flying should be better; so I can make decisions that will carry me along further along the course. A few times I sunk out when I shouldn’t have.”

Dawn has a background competing in some pretty serious adventure races but what makes the Red Bull X-Alps so unique is the weather, she claims: “In other races, whether you're running, biking or kayaking you can push on through the weather, but if it rains here, you really suffer.”

Dawn proved she can keep up with the best of the guys. She hiked 115km in the two-day period when she hiked through the night. She estimates she hiked a total 450km this race. But she finished up in some style, not on her feet but in the air with two epic days of flying over Switzerland, including a 100km flight over the Tessin mountains.

“Yesterday Gerald Gold was 12km behind me. We both launched at same time. We were both flying high at 3,000 - 4000 m. He overtook me and I just thought, 'you know what, this is my last day, I'm not racing, so I flew over the Aletsch Glacier. It was so beautiful and I just hung out there, cruising along.”

Race Director Christoph Weber is fulsome in his praise: “She's proved that she can hike hard and make intelligent decisions in the air. She has proved that women are really strong in this race.”

As to whether one day a woman can win the race, Dawn believes so. “Paragliding is pretty equal, all things considered. For this race we just need to find a woman who’s a really good pilot.”

“But I haven’t been flying that long,” she adds. ”Maybe in a few years…”

July 5, 2015

Red Bull X-Alps - Fire the Starting Gun!

Today's the day for the start of the Red Bull X-Alps!  I'll be pretty busy racing for the next ???? days, so don't expect too much blogging here.  However I'll be posting plenty of photos, videos and stories on the Red Bull X-Alps blog!

Click on Alerts to get automatic updates sent to your email, Facebook, or twitter.  Plus follow all the athletes as they fly, walk, or crawl their way to Monaco in a journey across the Alps!

July 4, 2015

Prologue: Red Bull X-Alps

Finally we have started the Red Bull X-Alps!  Although the prologue is kind of just a tease...just when I get going, I have to stop again.  For the prologue we had 3 turn points, one across a lake.  The weather was pretty stable, and the only condition was that I had to finish.  No penalty in the main race for taking a long time.   

So I hiked slowly to save my legs, and hoped I could fly to the finish.  It wasn't to be.  The weather was pretty stable and I launched on a down cycle.  I had to fly around below launch for almost an hour before I could get high enough to cross the lake.   My supporters Jim, Jarek, Boga, Cano and Chuck were all on launch to see me off, and I felt bad they had to watch me struggling!

 Then once across the lake, I had to work hard to get even higher to the second checkpoint.  That wasn't to be either.  After circling in almost nothing for an hour, I finally side hill landed about halfway up and hiked up to the top.   This was a better option than maybe sinking out and having to hike up 1000 meters to the summit.  Anyway, by then I was the absolute last one on the course.  

An easy launch from the top and I glided out into the wind and landed in the valley again.  Then I had 4k to walk to the finish.  It was hot and I could only think of jumping in the lake at the finish.  Which I did, shoes and all!  

Chrigel and Jim talking on the hike up to launch
All the Red Bull we can drink?

Getting interviewed at the Prologue award ceremony
Photo credit for most of these:  Jarek Wiezcorek
My official supporter Jarek of Antofaya Expeditions

Flying over Red Bull Headquarters

July 3, 2015

Red Bull X-Alps: My Sponsors!

I want to say a big thank you to all my X-Alps sponsors...I couldn't have done this race without you!

Goal Zero
Eagle Paragliding
Antofaya Expeditions
SkyNet XC3
Icaro 2000
Black Diamond
Foundation for Free Flight
Salt Cycles

Konstantin from the South African team helps put on stickers!



July 1, 2015

Practice Flight: Gaisberg to the Dachstein

For my birthday I had a practice flight at the Gaisberg above Salzburg.  It was a hot stable day and really hard to get away from launch.  It took a while, but I was able to make my way to the Dachstein!  I even avoided going into airspace.  If only I will be able to do this again for the race when it starts on July 5.....  Weather is looking hot and stable for the race so we might be hot but at least it won't rain for a while :)  

Flying above the Dachstein was amazing...lots of snow and rock and very forbidding territory.   I figured by these couple hours of flying, I saved myself 15 hours of walking.  Pretty good reason to keep flying!  

I was also trying out my new camera, the Garmin Virb.  I've had it attached to my foot, but my biggest fear is dropping it out of my pod from 1000 meters high....