7. February 1971

NonesMarco Aurelio Nones - Castello di Fiemme (TN) 23.07.1948 

Let the Marcialonga begin.

You chose to be here.

You and another 1064 who have arrived from eight different countries. The two Trentino valleys invaded by the northern world. Those used to long distances, those used to the cold and hard work, but also the joy of accomplishing great achievements. To breathe in the nature surrounding you and to feel the earth's heartbeat together with your own.

You don't really know what to expect but your emotions are running high, fizzing in expectation.

You have been waiting for days, and suddenly you can feel the tension and excitement breaking loose, uncontainable. When you reach the starting point and see the sunrise just above the clearing before Moena, you can feel it grow even more. When you place your wooden skis on the frozen snow and are captivated by the sound it makes, the tension is almost too much to bear. When you wear the white race bib with its plastic screen and the number 832, you feel as if it's impossible to contain these emotions any longer. When you hand in your orange bag containing your change of clothes, which you will find at the finish line. You feel you might explode. When you are waiting, holding your breath waiting for the starting shot.

The curiosity in each of us is palpable. No one knows what will happen. It's what you have been asking yourself since you received the enrolment receipt. You held it tight, almost crumpling it in your palm. A reminder that you have taken your first step in this great, but still unknown adventure. Naturally you have heard of the big classic races of northern Europe, you know that some of your travelling companions have taken part in them. But here, this is a different story. Here, the intense cold of this first Sunday of February, which can be felt under all your heavy clothing, that is still too light to keep it out completely, yet makes it more bearable, because you're on home ground, you know many of the participants, you wait to hear yourself cheered on by friends along the track. Here the difference in altitude is considerable and danger lies round every corner. 68Km of fun but also of physical strain. You pray your skis won't break, that you manage to stay upright when you arrogantly take on the narrow parts of the track, to get to the end of this first challenge using the classic technique.

Looking around you, you see concentration, anxiety, and will to continue. Happiness. You are ready. Just another few moments and you will let yourself slide on the snow that covers everything. You will be, you are, a small part of a story that will see the light. Here, today. A story that comes from afar. A sort that tells of courage, hopes, resistance, willpower. Of the vision of 4 men who fought for this. That we must first compete against ourselves and then with others. You ski and let yourself be led along by the clang of each of the bell towers, village after village, Valley after Valley. Becoming part of this celebration, which has already taken over the public, standing alongside the track, waiting to cheer on the skiers, accompanying them to the finish line.

You you know, the others know too. You exchange looks with the competitors next to you and in their eyes you see your own reflection. What they feel is what you feel. There is a subtle connection between you and them, weak, but it's there. There is and always will be. They say, that's the way it is, when you make history. 

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


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