Marino Valle e la Vigevano Pavia

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The name of Marino Valle is synonymous with the Vigevano-Pavia marathon. A long-distance canoe race on the Ticino–which he thought was the most beautiful river in Italy–was a dream of Valle’s for many years before it was finally inaugurated in 1968.

Valle blazed a shining path for local sportspeople:

- He was proficient in a number of sports (gymnastics, athletics, sailing, swimming, rowing and canoeing), achieving excellent results; and at the age of 60 attained his parachuting license which he maintained for many years by undertaking the required annual number of jumps.

- He went on daring expeditions in his MAS (Memento Audere Semper), a sophisticated barcè pavese (river boat) in which he covered over 40 000 kilometres, promoting the ideals of sport and culture in Pavia. In 1993 he won the local San Siro award for his significant contributions to the civic sporting scene.

- Valle also authored books and other publications, amongst the booklet “Sul mio Ticino in barcé e in canoa”, in which he gives evocative accounts of his canoeing experiences as well as offering instruction. As he himself put it in a conversation with fellow writer Mino Milani, this volume was “written in river water with an oar for a pen”.

- Valle made and organized a group of the canoeists at the Canottieri, and put into action a series of sporting and recreational insights and initiatives. In order to raise his athletes’ level of achievement, in the late seventies and early eighties he teamed up with olympic canoeist Luciano Buonfiglio (current president of the Italian Canoe and Kayak Federation – FICK). With Valle as director and Buonfiglioas trainer, the team won its first awards at the Italian championships.

- For most of the rest of his long life, Valle was Honorary President of the Canottieri, never missing a chance to contribute to the association he loved.

The Vigevano-Pavia marathon is Valli’s heritage for future generations. This year’s is the 40th edition: since 1968, only two editions have been missed, due to unforeseen circumstances. Valle was the only canoeist from the Canottieri Ticino to take part in the inaugural 1968 edition. Although not yet an expert canoeist, he felt that the organizing association had to be represented by someone in the race.

The admission of olympic canoes to the race in 1974 was a turning point. These craft had so far been considered unsuitable for the type of course, which has some strong currents and whirlpools, making stability difficult to maintain. It was an experiment that turned out well, not only because it allowed a comparison to be made between the performance of faster boats with those of stabler and more agile boats – which have had alternating fortunes depending on annual river conditions – but because it allowed a meeting of minds between olympic and wkite water canoeists. This connection has reinforced the principle and the conviction that there is only one canoe.

As in Northern European countries, the olympic marathon has become the preeminent long distance race, taking the place of the 10000m race in which the Italian national team, especially OrestePerri, excelled. The marathon run by the Canottieri Ticino has been chosen no less than 8 times as the venue for the Italian Championship. 

The first, spectacular, Italian Championship held here was won by Marco Previde Massara, four times white water World Champion and unbeaten dominator throughout the eighties of the international racing scene, after a duel that lasted all the way from Vigevano to the finishing line. His opponent was a young Antonio Rossi, the winner of numerous olympic medals and flag bearer for Italy at the Peking Olympic Games.The Ticino marathon had other high points in 1997, when it was the venue for the European Championships; and in 1999 when it hosted one of the two trials for the World Cup, the other being held in Cape Town.

The Canottieri Ticino has always been ready to embark on new world class initiatives. This edition is no exception. It is a homage to its creator, Marino Valle, who was also a good personal friend. In Valle’s name, to all those who will be competing in the race, may the best athlete win.

Federico Martinotti

Copyright © 2020 Vigevano Pavia Marathon. All Rights Reserved.

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Società Canottieri Ticino
Strada del Canarazzo, 15
27100 Pavia - Italy