Winter Challenge Sila3Vette, the curtain falls on the 2024 edition


By John

The curtain is lowered on the Sila3Vette Winter Challenge for the 2024 edition. It was an unusual edition: winter didn’t show its teeth like in previous years, but perhaps nature wanted to open its doors in an invitation to exploration, to a journey to the plateau between tourism, experience and adventure .
On February 23, at 9 in the morning, a close-knit and enthusiastic group of 18 people started the 260 Km ARIA. A race, a route, a journey. Each athlete or aspiring athlete wanted to give a different meaning to this 5 days of total immersion in nature. There was no shortage of episodes of extreme competitiveness among those who wanted to bring home the closing result of the 260 km at all costs; at the same time, there were those who, technically organized and mentally prepared, immersed themselves in the dense woods and paths, leaving behind thoughts of everyday life, as if wanting to erase the concept of competition and deciding to take a journey, enjoying the hospitality that they found in the checkpoints of both the activities involved and in the premises managed by the institutions. It is also worth highlighting the generosity of those inhabitants of the rural areas crossed by the race who opened their doors to these travelers arriving from the most remote places in Italy. We are talking about names now known to the Sila plateau, who came from the distant Alps, such as that of Gianluigi Bellantuoni who, from his home town of Bormio, in love with the Sila, fully conquers first place in the bike category, or the performer athlete Laura Trentani who cuts the finish line first among the athletes on foot, fresh as a rose, as if the very hard 260 km had been the pleasure journey to be covered on foot necessary to discover a perhaps unexpected Calabria, between hospitality, human warmth and natural beauty. Then we have the now well-known and valiant Ausilia Vistarini who decided, with her performer friend Ilaria Balzarotti, to travel the Sila3Vette in a total spirit of adventure and tour and let’s not forget the gastronomic aspect, the pride of Calabria, which Diego Guerriero and Sebastian Stepan appreciated it so much that they abandoned the concept of rankings to enjoy pleasant camps and relaxing picnics, with naps in their sleeping bags in that no-cost widespread hotel called Sila.
Then it is the turn of the 140 km which takes the participants to travel in the Sila of rural villages, linked to the days gone by in which the plateau became inhabited and, not trivially, lived on the impetus of the Sila Valorization Work. Also for the 140 the athletes enjoyed the setting of the sun in the West and the Moon shining in the East, moving between the mountains in a scenario located between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian Sea that only the Calabrian mountains can offer.
The 40 and 80 Km, characterized by the start at night, in this VIII Edition were introduced by a storyteller who, in a theatrical key, painted, with words like brushes, the immersion in the woods which we were preparing for like a painting of value. To enrich the event, the organization asked the beautiful singer ANTEA to lend her voice to the Gladiator soundtrack.
On Saturday morning, under constant and at times annoying rain, it was the turn of the 21Km, touristy but still in the spirit of the challenge; never as in this edition have those who have approached the discipline of endurance tested the true meaning of a mountain that can be experienced in any climate.
Finally, 2024 also has its own fairy tale: a four-legged athlete, not registered for the event but motivated and enthusiastic, imposed his participation by covering the 260 km plus another 40, accompanying and morally supporting the athletes. We are talking about man’s best friend, a beautiful mixed-breed shepherd, renamed Silo, who has won, one kilometer after another, the friendship of travelers and, with the tenacity typical of someone who truly has character, even a better future. a new home in Cefalù: the athlete Dario Lamartina has decided to adopt it.
Probably, rankings and times are to be considered, in a competition of this type, less important than human and social values.