TRIBUTE TO PEAK RACE PIONEER
Enthusiast helped forge international event:
THE man who helped turn the Snowdon Race into an international event has died. Gianpietro Botta brought Italian athletes to take part in the Snowdon Race in 1980, beginning a long association between Morbegno, where he was from, and Llanberis, Gwynedd, where the race is held every year.
Mr Botta died suddenly last week, aged 72.
Snowdon Race founder Ken Jones, who knew Mr Botta for almost 40 years, praised his Italian friend’s enthusiasm for the “glorious sport of mountain running”, which culminated in the twinning of the two villages in 2004.
Mr Jones said Mr Botta had created a bond between the two communities that is “unequalled”.
“This incredible connection is entirely due to the dedication and enthusiasm of Pietro and his legacy will survive forever in Llanberis.
“Next year, the race will celebrate the 40th consecutive participation by Italian runners,” he added.
During his visits to Llanberis Mr Botta immersed himself in Welsh tradition and history, visiting castles, ancient monuments and churches.
“His dedication and enthusiasm for developing friendship and goodwill was immense and he was a true ambassador for Morbegno,” Mr Jones said.
“Although both of us were not conversant in each other’s language, we managed to communicate without any difficulties.
“He was ever so fond of the Snowdon Race and considered the event to be a physiological as well as a physical challenge.”
Mr Jones recalled how the Italian connection had an instant impact on the race itself: “I first met Pietro in 1980 when he led a group of runners from Italy to Llanberis to participate in the fifth Annual Snowdon Race.
“When race day dawned the following day, Llanberis and Snowdon was covered in cloud and, by the start time, the heavens opened and it rained continuously throughout the race.
“The Italian delegation had no time to inspect the course and they disappeared into the cloud and mist.
“You can imagine my concern, as organiser, when Privato Pezzoli led the race and somehow managed to find the summit in such adverse weather conditions and then return victoriously to the finish line at Llanberis.
“Little did we know at the time what impact Privato Pezzoli’s victory would have on the future relationship between the communities of Llanberis and Morbegno.”
The Italians returned the following year and Mr Jones repaid d the compli compliment by visiting Morbegno to witness the town’s own mountain race, the Trofeo Vanoni.
“The welcome and the hospitality that we had from the people of Morbegno all those years ago has continued to this very day,” he explained.
“Such has been the success of this unique link that both races have now twinned together.”
● Gianpietro Botta in the early days of the Snowdon Race, and, inset, on left with Cllr Charles Jones, Deputy Mayor of Morbegno Alba Rapella, Ken Jones and Helen Sharp, leader of Llanberis Community Council, in 2004