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Paragliders Compete In A Rat Race In The Sky

Organizers call it a yacht race in the sky. But for the 160 or so paragliding pilots navigating a series of checkpoints and complicated turns while flying within feet of each other, the Rat Race Paragliding Competition can also be a hair-raising experience. 

“They have to fly the course we want,” says organizer Mike Haley. “But it’s not easy.”  

The Rat Race launches from the top of Woodrat Mountain near Jacksonville, Oregon, every summer. The event attracts the best paragliding pilots in the world for the seven-day event, though most of them will not complete the difficult course.


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Pilots wait for warm pockets of air, called thermals, to propel them to heights above 8,000 feet. With so many of them in the air at once, things can get tricky and they all must turn in the same direction to avoid mid-air collisions. Despite these challenges, they return to the Rat Race year after year to get in on the fun. 

“Some people tell us it’s like summer camp for adults,” says Haley. “We like to come out and have a good time.”  

You can join the Rat Race—or watch from the safety of the ground—at the MPH Sports website.

PARAGLIDER paragliding rat race Rat Race Paragliding Competition Jacksonville oregon

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