The America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race was founded by the Balloon Fiesta in 1995 due to the vision and efforts of Mark Sullivan, former Balloon Fiesta President and recipient of the Montgolfier Diplome (one of ballooning's highest honors), who saw the need for America to be identified with the world's most prestigious ballooning sport.
The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race is modeled after the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, but it differs from the older event in allowing balloons from all countries, without limits on the number of entries from each. The team that travels the longest distance wins.
Update 9 PM MDT Saturday, October 14 (0300Z Sunday, October 15)
The scoring process has confirmed what the ballooning world already knew: Switzerland’s Nicolas Tièche and Laurent Sciboz rewrote the record book in winning the 22nd America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons.
Update 12:45 PM MDT (1845Z) Wednesday, October 11
The Swiss team of Nicolas Tièche and Laurent Sciboz, newcomers to the America’s Challenge but experienced international competitors, are the apparent winners of the 22nd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons. All results are unofficial pending analysis of tracking data, pilot debriefings with the scoring team, and imposition of any point deductions for rule violations.
Update 6:20 PM MDT Tuesday, October 10 (0020Z Wednesday, October 11)
The final team to land in the 22nd America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons is safely on the ground after nearly three days in the air. Poland’s Krzysztof Zapart and Andy Cayton of the US (Team 4) landed at about 3:50 pm MDT (1550Z) near the border between Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada. As the tracking data does not always indicate a team’s actual position at landing, the Command Center is awaiting confirmation of the coordinates of their final position before publishing unofficial results for this distance race for gas balloons, which will most likely occur tomorrow morning.
Update 9:30 AM MDT (1530Z) Tuesday, October 10
Team 3, Cheri White of Austin, TX and Mark Sullivan of Albuquerque, NM, has landed safely just outside State College, PA to clinch fourth place in the 22nd America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons.
Update 8:30 AM MDT (1430Z) Tuesday, October 10
The Command Center has been notified that Team 6, Nicolas Tièche and Laurent Sciboz of Switzerland, have landed safely north of Labrador City near the border between Labrador and Quebec. They landed in the lead and have already beaten the old America’s Challenge distance record of 1,998.1 miles (3,215 km).