Planica is mainly known as the location for the climax of the world ski flying season, when lightweight, daring athletes hurtle down the Gorišek Brothers Flying Hill and then speed through the air for up to a quarter of kilometre before touching down. The current record, set here in 2019 by Ryoyu Kobayashi, is 252 metres – equivalent to the frankly unbelievable length of 2.27 football (soccer) pitches.
But it’s also the site of another event, one that’s to open all to participate in and sees competitors run or stagger up the fearsome slope. This is when Planica is known as the most demanding part of the whole Red Bull 400 circuit, one that takes in 17 locations around the world. The athletes will cover just 400 metres in their ascent, but with a height gain of 202 metres – a real challenge for the legs, heart and lungs, as seen below.
The event takes place on Saturday, 14 September (2019), with the races starting at 11:45 and continuing until the very precisely scheduled Men’s Final 16:18. The challenge is open to anyone aged 16 and over on the day of the event, with full 400m races being run separately for men and women, as well 4x100m relays for men, mixed and “professional” groups. The official site is here.
It’s now too late to register, but if this kind of thing is your idea of fun then keep an eye to the as yet to be announced date of next year’s Red Bull Goni Pony challenge, riding one of Rog’s iconic little cycles up the road to the Vršič Pass. In terms of the brute facts this means pedalling 13.5 kilometres to the top of a mountain, a route that includes 24 hairpins turns and rises 801 vertical metres, with an average incline of 10.8%. This year it was in June, so you have plenty of time to get training.