The story of Elena Bétemps, athlete and CimAlp Tester, and the discovery of trail running was not accidental, she and the mountains are “friends since ever”. Elena lives in Fenis, a small town in the Aosta Valley famous for its magnificent medieval Castle.
She has always played sports, she followed the example and inherited the temperament from her father Elio who was first a footballer and then part of the Italian Bobsleigh National Team.
Sport and music have always been the pillars of her life, they have given her a lot in difficult moments. Both of them need hours and hours of hard work, training, perseverance and dedication to succeed.
Now is your turn Elena, tell us more about your story!
The first outings in the mountains in search of gnomes
Living in a wonderful place, with breathtaking mountains, since I was a child I have been lucky enough to go out for long walks on mountain trails with my family: I remember that when I was tired, my father showed me details of twigs or foliage around the path and he told me that this was the house of the “lumberjack gnome”, and that if I walked a little longer we would find the village or maybe we would see the gnomes. The tantrums ended instantly and I started walking again. I have covered many miles since then without seeing these gnomes, that’s why I keep running!
The Competitive sporting activity and the discovery of the “trail spirit”
Gnomes aside, I started competing in trail running races in 2010, when for work reasons, after a short period practicing athletics and 16 years of volleyball (I played for several years in Serie C), I no longer had the opportunity to attend training sessions at the times set by club.
Then I started to dedicate myself to individual sports: running, swimming, cycling, climbing, skiing … after so many years in the gym I wanted to go outdoors!
I love trail running, both for the contact with nature (some landscapes excite me even just reliving them in my mind) and for what many people define “trail spirit”: I got to know wonderful people and stories by fully experiencing the atmosphere of the races, passion, solidarity and sharing that only sport can create.
So I started training a little more seriously to try to lengthen the distances and improve my results, to set myself goals.
I have always been very tenacious and some results have arrived despite the limited time available.
Trail running, endurance sport in general, can give you much more than you think
This sport allowed me to keep my mind together when, in the most difficult moments, I felt like I couldn’t make it. In 2011, my mother was diagnosed with a very rare incurable degenerative disease, olive-ponto-cerebellar atrophy or multiple system atrophy. This diagnosis, in addition to the fact that even my dad was not doing well with diabetes and cardio-vascular problems, changed my priorities and my life. I was only twenty years old.
Running gave me that freedom and mental balance that allowed me to face every day reality with the necessary strength and positivity. Over the years the difficulties have increased but I never gave up and kept focusing on sport: objectives are clear and rules are well-defined. It almost represents a therapy when you are constantly struggling with unpredictability and ambiguity of the World. In July 2018 my dad underwent emergency open-heart surgery and stayed away from home for months. I had to juggle between work and looking after my mom. That same year I completed the UTMB. I cried with joy and gratitude right from the start, just for the opportunity I was experiencing against all odds. I was also able to count on the great support of my partner and my sister with her family, whom I thank. The love of loved ones is a very powerful force.
The period of podiums and Ultra Trail
Between 2017 and 2018 I had my best results: 1st place at La Thuile Trail, 6th place at 52km Monte Rosa Walter Trail, 4th place at 90km Adamello … in 2015 I finished the TDS and I was among the 5 youngest athletes to have participated in the UTMB racing circuit that year (we are talking about over 8,000 athletes).
I love the ultra trails: I enjoy the emotions, spending a lot of time rediscovering myself, sharing sections of the race track with new people (which after a quick exchange of words you seem to have always known), experiencing tough nature and weather and overcoming difficult moments where you force yourself to go on … My Mantra, both in sport and daily life, is “donec ad metam” (straight to the goal) a quote by d’Annunzio.
Currently I continue to train, I also had some competitions planned which unfortunately, because of the health emergency situation, were cancelled. However, my sessions are easier than in previous years because I am completing a second master’s degree in music which takes away a lot of my free time in addition to work and family needs. As soon as this university parenthesis is over I will resume training more seriously, I am not lacking in determination and passion, I have many projects that I want to achieve with this wonderful sport.
A huge thank you to Trail Running Movement and to CimAlp for this wonderful opportunity to be a Product Tester in a rather difficult year! I wish everyone to pursue their dreams assiduously and not to be disheartened by adversity but to make their passions a “shield” to face every challenge that life presents us, without forgetting, however, that it is only by helping others that we understand the true happiness.