This is a lot of terrain to cover and hard to navigate by foot. Many people question how would one conquer this task, and how would one complete it.
When spectators, such as non paragliding pilots try to answer this question,most of them might think of hiring guides. Some might even think that, given a chance and ability, it might be easier to paraglide across the high mountain passes rather than hike them.
This might be correct if you are at the right place at the right time to take advantage of good weather conditions and flying possibilities. These variables and the present physical/mental condition of the athletes, make the xAlps such a popular and interesting race for anyone to follow, whether you are a participant/athlete in the race, a paraglider pilot or only a spectator. Every athlete has a live tracking device with them and the athletes can be followed throughout the race live at www.RedBullxAlps.com. In 2011 the race had over 2 million visitors on the website following it.
It is very interesting understanding the perspective of the performer/athlete and also the perspective of the viewer/observer. The observer is entertained by watching the tactics of the athletes and tries to figure out the decision making of these performers. As it often is, the observer seems to know best what the performer should do! We hear it all the time. In sports, competitions, watching a movie or a play, the commentators and spectators feel they know better what the performer should be doing. And quite often the observer might have a better idea of what is going on and see the overall picture, and how to proceed with it. At the same time however, an observer is often surprised by the performers decision as the observer does not always know what is going on in the performers mind, their entire "game plan" and also the physical and mental condition or background knowledge of the performer.
To assist an athlete/performer with the overall picture of how the event should be played, we use coaches/leaders. A good coach/leader helps to eliminate or reduce overall difficulties or problems, work on different tactics and is a liaison with feedback from supporters of what the performer is doing.
The use of coaches in the sports industry is very much accepted and they play a huge part in all sports. The equivalent in the business world, would be a mentor. If you think about, a good manager should be the coach/leader, however, we see it all the time, the manager is also performing and can have a hard time seeing the overall picture. Even in our private or family life we could use a coach, who simply can be a couple of friends to talk to.
For my preparations in the race, I always try to step out of the current situation I am in, and try to watch my actions from the outside. Sometimes I envision myself sitting in front of a TV, watching the event play itself out, and try to analyze this situation as an observer, coach, commentator or spectator, and in that position think about what the right decision will be for the next step.Trying to evaluate oneself like this, will only work to a certain extent.
The xAlps race is not only about the pilot/athlete. It is about a team working together to achieve a common goal - getting the pilot to Monaco.
I have to say that I am very fortunate to do the xAlps with my partner Penny, as she is a very good coach and motivator and the best of all is that we both have so much fun while preparing for the xAlps and then racing.
In the 2013 xAlps, a team will now be allowed to have 2 supporters, which could, or might, make things much harder, as we know that too many chefs spoil the broth. But if you have the right team players, you quadruple the benefit.
Penny and I are very excited that we found the best 2nd supporter/coach we could ask for. Mik Broschard is a long time friend, has a lot of connections, knowledge of the race and the sport, highly motivated, got the time and got the support from his family (thanks again Kristine) to make Team Canada complete.