Over the past decade, recreational and outdoor sports have become immensely popular in China, especially those of an endurance bent. The upsurge in interest has propelled once obscure sports into the national conscious, while also spawning all manner of new competitions. One such contest, the ninth annual Red Bull 24-Hour Cross Challenge is about to get underway in Yunnan, and organizers are looking for fit and interested athletes to join.
First held in 2006, the Cross Challenge is a multidisciplinary sporting event held on one of the province's more beautiful peaks, Jiaozi Snow Mountain (轿子雪山). The massif is a rocky, craggy spire rising to a point 4,247 meters above sea level in central Yunnan's Luquan County (禄劝县). Much of the mountain is a protected scenic area, and it is there that the Cross Challenge will be held.
Red Bull 24-Hour Cross Challenge details
The race is 100 kilometers long in total. Teams of three — one woman and two men — are required to complete the course in under 24 hours, with one mandatory seven-hour break, while otherwise budgeting time for meals and the completion of different athletic heats on their own. The total purse for the 2016 Cross Challenge is 100,000 yuan.
Each team must find and pass through more than a dozen checkpoints along the course. At each stop, teams must check in and follow health protocols while replenishing water and other vital supplies. During the race, all participants will complete a cycling section, which includes both tarmac and off-road portions. Cross country trail running, orienteering, kayaking and inline skating — or more running/walking if participants cannot skate — portions are also included. Over some sections of the race, competitors must also navigate rope bridges and abseiling — or rappelling — elements.
In an added twist to this year's event, teams must also complete a mysterious puzzle while in the midst of the competition. The winning team will receive 30,000 yuan, while the second and third place finishers will earn 22,000 and 18,000 respectively. All teams finishing in the top 12 will get cash prizes.
Race organizers will provide the necessary equipment for the individual heats. The course is on a mountain beginning at around 2,000 meters above sea level and topping out at 4,200. Therefore, all entrants must provide their passports and an electrocardiogram no more than three months old when applying. Weather conditions may be unpredictable, so interested parties are also expected to have a high fitness level and bring clothing for all meteorological conditions.
Details and November 4 registration deadline
Participation in the Red Bull 24-Hour Cross Challenge is free and open to teams registering before the final deadline on November 4. Because of the international nature of the competition, registration is currently open for entirely foreign teams only. Up to 35 teams are allowed to participate and, as of this writing, several groups from China have already enrolled.
All transportation, room and board are provided without charge by competition organizers. Teams are expected to bring their own one-liter water bottles, flashlights, compasses, sleeping bags, moisture-proof pads, and two 60-80 liter bags per team are recommended as well. However, each team is required to pay a 1,000 yuan refundable deposit fee. If you think you have what it takes and would like to register a team, and would like to receive updates on similar future events, fill out the Registration Form at the bottom of this article. You can also call race registrar Quentin — who is bilingual — at 15308808367.
Orientation day: November 11
• Check-in and orientation from 9am-4pm at the Kunming Mountaineering Expedition Association, including equipment allocation
• Travel by bus to Jiaozi Snow Mountain from 7-9:30pm. Buses depart from Kunming Mountaineering Expedition Association
Race days: November 12-13
• Check-in, orientation and race briefing from 8:30am-11:30am including equipment allocation
• Rest and lunch, 11:30am-12:30pm
• Opening ceremony begins at 1pm
• Race starts promptly at 1:30pm
Once the race has finished and the awards handed out, competitors will stay the night at Jiaozi Snow Mountain before being bused back to Kunming November 13.
Images: Red Bull