ALBUQUERQUE — Polish balloon pilot Krzysztof Zapart and American teammate Andy Cayton are the apparent winners of the 2019 America’s Challenge gas balloon race.

The team crossed the Canadian border and landed Thursday just south of Hudson Bay, having traveled more than 1,600 miles after launching from Albuquerque earlier this week.

The annual contest occurs during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which draws balloon pilots and hundreds of thousands of spectators from around the world.

America’s Challenge is one of the world’s premier distance races for gas balloons. The team that travels the longest distance wins.



Officials will verify flight data as part of the scoring process before crowning Zapart and Cayton this year’s winners. Eight other teams competed, with the second team traveling nearly 1,330 miles.

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