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Snowshoes at the ready for unusual cross-country event

The picturesque Non Valley in Northern Italy will be awash with competitors in the annual Ciaspolada snowshoe race once again this winter.

For the 36th year running, the event will see thousands of competitors race across the wintery valley, all wearing snowshoes or ciaspole, in the local dialect.

Racers from all over the world descend on this quiet corner of Italy to compete in the world-famous event, from those hoping to place highly in the competitive event or just looking to experience something a little different in the all-comers race.

Snow-shoeing is believed to have started many thousands of years ago among early civilisations living in snow-covered wilderness, who needed to develop a means of moving safely across vast expanses of soft snow.

The principle behind snowshoes is based on spread the weight of the body over a larger surface area, thereby giving buoyancy on the soft surface and avoiding that sinking feeling.

Modern equipment utilises all the latest lightweight metal technology, but traditional shoes are more commonly made of wood.

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