On the hunt for an adrenaline rush

By Gioia HöroldLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Sport: one person's mental equaliser, another's tormentor. Some people have a penchant for the pinnacle of sport, the adrenaline rush. We spoke to various extreme athletes and asked them why it makes their hearts beat faster to reach their physical and mental limits.

Pushing yourself to your physical limits, exerting yourself to the maximum and surpassing yourself are all part of extreme sport. Lee Biver, who is studying for a Master's degree in sports psychology, defines extreme sports as sports that involve special challenges, both mentally and physically. "Extreme sports can give you the feeling of an intense kick, whether it's activities like skydiving or bungee jumping. But endurance sports can also be extreme in this sense. It's about constantly challenging your personal limits."

The term extreme sport tends to be viewed negatively by many athletes, as people generally shy away from the concept of the extreme. That's why they prefer to talk about ultra sports instead. A distinction is made between two types of ultra sports: high-risk sports and so-called long-term ultra sports. Bungee jumping, free climbing or downhill mountain biking, sports that are associated with particular dangers, trigger a short and intense adrenaline rush. Long-term ultra sports include long-distance cycling and ultramarathons, for example. They are considered less risky. Top athletes push themselves to their physical and mental limits over a longer period of time. In marathon running, any competition that is longer than the usual 42 kilometres is considered extreme. But what actually drives you to challenge yourself? Are ultra athletes really daredevils who can't resist the adrenaline rush? We met up with some of them.

Varied portraits

Ralph Diseviscourt is an ultra athlete in long-distance cycling. He only started taking part in cycling competitions at the age of 28 and won the time trial five times. His interest in the long distances slowly grew and he began to specialise in them. "Physically and mentally, it takes years to really prepare for such competitions. It's a long process where you always wonder whether you can do it." One of his personal highlights remains the world record he set in Vianden in the 24-hour bike race, in which he covered 915.39 kilometres.

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