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 1300 MDT (1900 UTC) Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Weather concerns in the Midwest will cause at least a day's postponement of the scheduled launch of the America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons. The launch is now tentatively scheduled for early Thursday evening (0000 UTC Friday) at Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park.
Update 10 PM MDT (0400 UTC) Tuesday, October 4
Six teams answered the roll call on Tuesday afternoon, October 4 at the opening briefing for the 20th America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons. The race remains scheduled to launch sometime Wednesday evening, October 5.
Update 9:30 PM (0330 UTC) Monday, October 3
It takes a certain and special kind of person to fly in a gas balloon distance race like the America’s Challenge. As launch day (Wednesday) draws closer and the teams prepare for their first briefing on Tuesday, let’s introduce you to the men and women who pursue this purest form of high adventure, traveling on the whims of the wind and weather and their wits.
Update 10/2/16 2130 MDT (0330 UTC)
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons remains on schedule for a Wednesday late afternoon or evening launch. Weather permitting, the balloons should inflate Wednesday afternoon and launch around sunset.