Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Honza means air, and the X-Alps race

Czech-born flier to represent U.S.

In this self-portrait, paraglider Honza Rejmanek is exhausted but ecstatic after seven-and-a-half hours in the air last July. Here, he has landed near Lima, Mt. after an 108-mile flight from Ketchum to Montana. Photo by Mountain Express

This is the time of year when Czech-born Honza Rejmanek usually spends a lot of time soaring in his paraglider over Idaho mountains, setting distance records along the way.

July will be little different for Rejmanek this year. The 34-year-old will represent the U.S. in the world's toughest and longest hike and paraglide endurance race—the X-Alps on a mountainous 813-kilometer (504-mile) course in Europe.

The race lasted 17 days when Rejmanek first attempted it, back in 2007. It is estimated to last two weeks this year, starting Sunday, July 19 near Salzburg, Austria and going past seven turn points to Monaco.

The rules of the adventure race are simple—fly or hike carrying your glider around set turn points all the way across the Alps. The event was first held for 17 athletes in 2003. Rejmanek suffered food poisoning at the beginning of the 2007 race but managed to pull it together and rally into the top 10.

He's been training ever since in what he calls the stronger flying conditions of Idaho so he could make another comeback in the X-Alps Games.

A graduate student in meteorology, 17-year pilot Rejmanek is being helped this year by Wood River Valley resident Dave Hanning. Hanning is taking care of ground support and is Honza's logistical organizer.

Both Rejmanek and Hanning are fundraising for the U.S. team's 2009 mission. Raffle tickets supporting the U.S. team are available for purchase online at The raffle takes place during the event with the winners posted daily on the USA team blog.

Race details can be found at

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