THE ZERO EDITION AND THE PIONEERS
THE STORY OF CARLO DEGIOVANNI
“Duilio had the face of the great sage, one who has experienced many adventures of this type in his long career as a tough sportsman. His wisdom had advised him to be cautious and a lot of perplexity to be part of the adventure but then the passion and desire to give his contribution to the need prevailed. He and his companions sitting at the bar sipped their last beer waiting for the fateful hour to come. I observed them and thought of the enthusiasm with which they had joined the project and the courage to be there despite the announcement of two days, with their night, meteorologically demanding. Athletes with no “name” but connoisseurs of the efforts necessary for these enterprises.
A little further on, the press was chasing the athletes who had achieved, over time and with merit, the fame of Champions. Other athletes were unknown to me except in the names indicated by Sensacugnisiun in name and in fact: I will never thank him enough for letting me enter this world. An unwitting smile that escaped from the confines of the face inhabited Omar’s face surrounded by some companions and, above all, companions in adventure from which a cheerful chatter emerged, unaware of the great effort lurking. Only Alexander had endowed his eyes with the expression appropriate to the tiring appointment. There were all the institutional protagonists gathered under the roof of Terres Monviso who conceived the company and the sponsor, Bio Doc, who supported it. And to say that for the organization it had to be simply a number zero, a test to be done quietly because … will we then be able to do it seriously?
Speeches, information and group photos to bless the screamed event, albeit at a low volume, to the four winds and then the start with guaranteed social distancing, if not by the public force by the different athletic strength of the protagonists. Two worries inhabited my thoughts, in order: how hot it is! And will it be reported sufficiently thereafter?
I abandon the “location” of the departure and go up to Pian Munè to check that everything works: Marta and Valter are a “war machine” and leave nothing to chance. The lights of the coveted refreshment can be seen from Bric La Piata in the impending night. After 4 hours and 5 minutes from the start, the front panels of Marco, Paolo and Franco illuminate the refreshment area where Andrea does his best to welcome kindnesses at least as much as the libations made available. Fatigue does not yet mark the expression of the pioneers who come to groups with little detachment. Some silent and others vociferous with a prevalence of a soprano frequency. Duilio greets his fellow adventurers Renzo and Giovanni: he had had the right (negative) sensations in the previous days but … every single step and every drop of sweat is useful for the cause and so, why not be there? For the others, the adventure continues.
A first alarm comes from the direction of Wedosport which signals two satellite detectors out of the way and identified in Paesana! The danger ceases immediately when it is reported that Elisa and Virginia communicated at the start that they would only cover some sections and at that moment they were at Elisa’s house to take a first shower: fortunately the Trackers used were not equipped with a camera!
After the passage of Roberto and Simone (7 hours and 20 minutes), surprisingly fast also due to the impossibility of identifying garbage on the path due to the darkness at night, I move to the “life base” of Ostana. In the meantime, I hear that in Borgata Serre di Oncino an unorganized or even planned group of local “Mappets” is celebrating the transits to the sound of cowbells offering, but above all, drinking the nectar that generates philosophy and makes the nights light. Great !!! I think how great it would be if all the Alpine villages followed their example!
I arrive in Ostana well after the passage of Marco and Paolo (they passed after 6 hours and 56 minutes) and they tell me that Franco has had to leave. He recently set a new record on Monte Rosa and the legs of the Champions also need recovery and rest.
However, I am in time to follow the other transits: the heat and humidity of the night are really oppressive and the faces of Gianluca and Massimo when they reach the base after 8 hours and 45 minutes clearly testify to this. An hour goes by and Marina and Daniela’s soft step crosses the threshold of the “location”. Nicola awaits them, a capable masseur who tries to give relief to travelers with wise maneuvers on the backs, buttocks, legs and anything else the human body can offer. I am struck by how by massaging the muscles he understood that there was dehydration and it was necessary to drink …
Omar’s overflowing smile comes 5 minutes later but the expression is a bit like this: it will seem strange but the cold advises him to lie down and cover himself to recover. A few minutes and Mirko arrives in the company of Gianluca the other. I understand that this sport generates solidarity and creates new friendships. Speaking of couples: after 11 hours and 30 minutes a shouting with a prevalent soprana frequency announces the arrival of Maddy and Daniele. The masseur continues his pious work and Josè procures other cots for the proper rest of the wayfarers. Silvia and the children Davide, Antonio, Giorgio and Alice watch vociferous and thoughtful. Alessandro arrives alone after 11 hours and 35 minutes, preceding Renzo and Giovanni by 10 minutes. Just a little later and after 12 hours Roberto and Simone arrive: despite the darkness some waste has been collected and is placed on a bench. Solerte Josè would like to provide for the differentiated disposal but Roberto stops him to testify, through a capable photo, of the (meager) booty.
The cots “entice” the group intent on recovering their strength. Silence falls in the life base. I notice that Giovanni’s rest is disturbed by the badly positioned blanket and, with a maternal gesture, I tuck everything up. The August night is poetic. The full moon illuminates the summit of the stone King and everything is magic … only that shouting with a prevalent soprana frequency sometimes bursts to awaken the stillness.
Dawn is about to break and the group, in no particular order, resumes their journey. Alessandro points out to me, with his eyes and words, his difficulty in continuing. “Take me to Saluzzo where I have my car”. The face is really tired and not only that. I agree to the invitation and load his backpack into the car then … the twist. The call of the forest advises him to continue and, having recovered his backpack, he sets off again.
Solitary I face the journey to Casteldelfino where another life base is planned. The car sometimes swerves to signal that a stop for sleep would not be out of place for me too, however … the athletes await me and for them the effort is greater than mine.
I reach the destination with a large margin to think about the evolution of the test. The internet is precarious and it is not possible to follow Wedosport Live easily. Moreover, Trackers find it difficult to report the position due to the rocky walls that characterize the upper part of the Monviso tour. They all seem to have stopped at Buco di Viso but… it is not like that.
After 14 hours and 35 minutes Marco arrives. He points out some difficulty in identifying the track at Grange Gheit and this causes me some concern. We have provided GPX and Road Map but… the routes are never sufficiently marked! Fatigue makes everything more difficult. He continues accompanied by two athletes from the Varaita Valley Running with the task of indicating the right way. Let’s try to give them some tape to apply here and there…
Paolo giunge dopo 20 minuti e racconta di una profonda crisi passata sulla salita a Buco di Viso. Si misura per la prima volta in questa disciplina densa di incognite per lui. L’incontro con Marco, Monica e Pier in quota gli ha ridato energie e pare rinfrancato. Il sorriso c’è in un volto scavato di fatica. Prosegue sperando che anche per lui ci sia un Angelo Custode che lo guidi per sentieri sconosciuti.
Alessandro ha dovuto arrendersi a Crissolo dopo avere tentato l’impossibile. Intanto Omar segnala il suo ritiro che avviene a Grange Gheit. Giunge alla base vita dispiaciuto ma il sorriso non abbandona il suo volto: il caldo e l’umidità sono avversari aggiuntivi e peggiori dei 165 chilometri e
Paolo arrives after 20 minutes and tells of a profound crisis on the climb to Buco di Viso. He is measured for the first time in this discipline full of unknowns for him. The meeting with Marco, Monica and Pier at high altitude gave him back his energy and he seems refreshed. There is a smile in a face hollowed out with fatigue. He continues hoping that for him too there is a Guardian Angel who will guide him along unknown paths.
Alessandro had to surrender to Crissolo after trying the impossible. Meanwhile, Omar reports his retirement which takes place in Grange Gheit. He arrives at the base of life sadly but the smile does not leave his face: heat and humidity are additional and worse adversaries than the 165 kilometers and 7500 meters of altitude difference!
It is Massimo who passes the life base after 17 hours and 38 minutes: only for those like me it is a surprise, in that world he boasts a reputation as a great athlete, resistant and fast.
Gianluca “Sensacugnisiun” takes 19 hours and 15 minutes. It is he who built the team of specialists. A point of reference for the sector but also for him it is the moment of the wise decision to leave.
After 20 hours and 25 minutes, the female couple Marina and Daniela appear on the steps leading to the stop. Experience to sell for the two champions who, having reinstated their strength, continue the good path.
The fragmented news reaching Casteldelfino indicates the retreats of Renzo, Giovanni and Roberto in Buco di Viso. The heat up to high altitudes determines situations that wisely recommend abandonment.
20 hours and 50 minutes have passed since the start when Mirko and Gianluca (the other) arrive. The first wishes the second good continuation and wisely decides to put an end to his test. Awareness, together with strength and endurance are the indispensable tools of the trade.
I spend my time chatting amiably with Alberto, none other than the Mayor of Casteldelfino, and the revived Omar and together we plan the future of the national Uisp and of the entire Varaita Valley … meanwhile, three “pious women”, Claudia, Gabriella and Michela, are begging for news about their loves still scattered in the mountains between Vallanta and Grange Gheit: we just have to wait!
I’m sleepy and even the chrono has run out of batteries. I try a nap but a shouting with prevalent soprana frequency announces the arrival of a pair of athletes, or rather, of a single athlete as Daniele has put an end to his suffering at the Vallanta Refuge. How will she talk even if she is alone? She arrives, lively as Maddy had never raced and is determined to continue the adventure. He tells me about the Maremmano who in Bagnur craved his buttocks… the beast’s fine palate! I look at her and it is difficult for me to tell her that for safety reasons we would not have let her continue, especially in solitude, for another 15/16 hours of walking. You understand, Maddy and that consoles me. His voice with prevalent soprana frequency will keep me company until Simone arrives, he too can continue but stopped by my invitation and the pleading gaze of Roberta, the mother. Roberto, the father, after having recovered, would have liked to accompany him in the (long) final part but… of “Sensacugnisiun” we already have one. Enough and, “fuck a lot”, advance!
It is time, also for me, to go home not without reading the messages of the group following the evolution of the situation: on the road I find, via Daniele, the retreat of Daniela and Marina at Colle del Prete, the solitary arrival of Marco in Saluzzo after 23 hours and 30 minutes. Paolo too tastes the flavor of his personal success after 25 hours and 40 minutes. Massimo skilfully managed his undoubted qualities, sanctioned by the third position, when 28 hours and 54 minutes had passed since his departure at 5.15 pm the previous day.
Only of Forrest Gump Gianluca (the other) I had no news. I knew of his wandering around the Colle del Prete, of his encounter with the refreshing rain but also of his stubbornness in wanting to arrive. Giorgio and Gianfranco were his guardian angels in the final kilometers: he waited for him, supported and accompanied him until after 34 hours and 40 minutes the capital of the Marquisate welcomed him in his arms. This, however, I discovered the next morning: sleep won me over!
Characters and interpreters of the story (in order of appearance)
Leading actors: Duilio Chiri, Sensacugnisiun Gianluca Barbero, Omar Riccardi, Alessandro Nibbio, Marco De Gasperi, Paolo Bert, Franco Collè, Renzo Paschetto, Giovanni Poetto, Elisa Desco, Virginia Turini, Roberto Cavallo, Simone Cavallo, Massimo Vanzetti, Marina Plavan, Daniela Bonnet, Rossetti Mirko, Forrest Gump Gianluca (the other) Bertolotti, Maddy Maddalena Lanzilotti and Daniele Giacalone.
Shoulders and extras: Marta Nicolino, Valter Bossa, Andrea Pilone, Nicola Bellini, Josè Berdugo, Silvia Rovere, the little ones Davide, Antonio, Giorgio and Alice, Alberto Anello, Claudia Provenza, Gabriella Guglielmi, Michela Ruzza, Daniele Catalin, Giorgio Pelissero and Gianfranco Marengo.
Directed by Alberto Dellacroce