TRIB­UTE TO PEAK RACE PI­O­NEER

En­thu­si­ast helped forge in­ter­na­tional event:

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Eryl Crump

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

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