Almost all mountaineering history books begin on April 24th, 1336, the day of Francesco Petrarca’s ascent to Mont Ventoux. A few days later Petrarca wrote to Dionigi da San Sepolcro telling him about the climb: it is the first excerpt of mountaineering writing, and it is not very different from the ones of romantic pioneers five centuries later. From that moment the story of the climb becomes as important as the climb itself, its pass for history.
Mountain writing became a literary genre in all respects, but alongside the pages of Whymper, Comici and Bonatti, alpinism also began to collect a whole minor literature made up of short reports on summit books, personal notebooks or mountaineering magazines. This poor and frank writing was fully inherited from the mountaineering of the seventies and from the new sports that were born in that period of time, and the reports of these new patrons of the highlands swept away in a few years all the stale rhetoric and moldy expressiveness that that literature carried with it.
In the same years, ultrarunning was born, which at that time very much resembled the world of sport climbing. In the eighties the sport grew, and ultramarathon runners began to scatter the reports of their races where they can. Then came magazines that collect reports and race results, such as UltraRunning magazine: numbers surpassed big words, accompanied from time to time by a caption or a microscopic image. These accounts took on even more importance with the birth of the FKT, similar to mountaineering undertakings. But if climbers write to prove their feats, runners write to help others repeat theirs.
Pioneers of ultrarunning are not young Englishmen of good family who recite Shakespeare, but physicists and computer scientists from Stanford. So, as soon as the internet arrived, those stories first poured into blogs and then into forums and newsletters. In the 2000s something began to spread also in Italy. Mountain running has existed here for decades, but only back then it really started to spread: in 2002 came Grand Raid du Cro-Magnon, in 2003 UTMB, in 2007 LUT. Blogs, self-managed trails, and magazines, such as Spirito Trail, were also born. The ones who wrote are bloggers, enthusiasts, nerds. Some of them would become race organizers, athletes, coaches, but at that moment they were still unknown. On forums, users discussed, exchanged views on material and nutrition. Then all this started to disappear, blogs disappeared too while social networks grew. From there on we know the story.
Realizing a special issue about trail running means putting your foot in this process. We thought of this number as a sedimentation of those experiences. Davide Fioraso talked about how the way of telling the scene has changed with the founders of the English magazine “Like The Wind”. We instead discussed how the international scene is changing with Dylan Bowman, in a long interview lasting more than an hour that we report in a more or less complete version. We also talked about closer things, in particular about a bubble that has taken hold in Italy in recent years, thanks to three or four people to whom we will always owe a lot, we did it with Alessandro Locatelli and Marcello Marcadella. We then talked about athletes through the voice of an athlete: Francesco Puppi, who has recently been working hard to create positive content in Italy. We gave the photographers who collaborated with us carte blanche, looking for a different language, with the photos of Matteo Pavana, Andrea Torresan and Elisa Bessega (who then spoke about the issue with Larry Gassan, legend of running photography in the US). We also discussed about big or small brands, films and independent projects. And then we talked about the people who carry on this great scene, who read our magazine, and who every day put on a pair of shoes and go out for a run.