The journey to the start

Costantino CostantinCostantino Costantin - Forno di Zoldo (BL) 23.12.1948

The snow keeps falling.

It just isn't stopping. Falling constantly like it can't do anything else, like it is the only weather possible. Whispering sarcastically to myself, "You know what? You are never going to see the sun again...."
I look out of the window hoping that just because I want it to stop - it will stop. As though I could choose. There were just two days left, this won't do. We are never going to get to Val di Fiemme. We are going to miss the Marcialonga this year... Come on we have to find a solution! With all our patience and courage, we have to leave. We will go anyway. Our journey cannot end here.
Together we can do it.
Together. Yes, because the Marcialonga has always been a group project for us, right from the beginning.

60 of us left from my town in 1971 for a long distance race in Italy. The race we were all waiting for. Like the ones that we had always dreamed about in the north, like Vasaloppet or Birkebeiner which seemed unattainable. And now here was the Marcialonga just two hours away from home. It was easy. There were lots of us and the enthusiasm was catching. Bringing together all our hopes, dreams, wishes, and friendship. It united us and still unites us. It was never the competition that made me take part but the chance of being part of this amazing adventure. On my own it wouldn't have been the same. I would have given up before now.

Okay let's leave! To hell with this snow that doesn't seem to be stopping. We will get there this year as well!

We have said it and we will do it. We are getting all the equipment ready, the car, and the food. We take everything we think we will need to win the battle against the elements. This snow is so light, but so obstinate. One snowflake after another stopping us from getting to our destination. A shovel, chains, blankets. Have we got everything? Let's go! Let's go...

The road is unrecognisable. There are no recognisable landmarks. We use our memory as our navigator. We take it in turns to drive, so that no single driver has to shoulder it all. We can´t use any mountain passes as they are all closed. We need to find alternative routes, longer, but at a lower altitude. We needed to pass through the cities. Sometimes the car slides, sometimes it gets stuck in the snow. There is no way we can get it out while sitting in the warm car. First gear, reverse, first gear, reverse. We need to get out and dig in order to free the wheels. A competition in the competition. We are all exhausted. A 10 hour journey and we are not even halfway there. Stuck in the car we are aware that we will not arrive in time to collect the race-bibs. Will we be able to take part anyway? ....We cross our fingers. The journey continues.

We have done so much to get to the start. It is 4 o'clock in the morning. It is dark and cold. I inhale the night air and get ready. I will take part this year as well. Finally, our racing-bibs arrive, the last piece of the puzzle.

Are you ready?

I am so tired, but as soon as the starting shot rings out, I start to feel joy running through my veins. I am exactly where I should be. We start skiing. I will get to the end once again. I will. 

Concept, interview and text: Susanna Sieff
Photo: Alice Russolo
Video: Graziano Bosin - Dolomiti TV


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