Olivier Valla, a Frenchman in Italy

Olivier Valla

The first time I heard about Olivier was when we talked one evening in Turin about this French runner who came from the world of cycling and who for some years had been passionate about Trail-Running.

I think it was in 2014.

Since that day the paths with Olivier have often crossed many times, we have become very good friends, we have competed together, we have spent weekends together, and together with other friends we have contributed to the birth of the Ultra Taaaaac Team.

He definitively belongs to the category of “emigrantrailer“. He is an emigrant, a lover of Trail-running, but he is also a “trailer”, taking with great seriousness and passion the role of President of the Ultra Taaaaac Team that he has held for some years.

I wanted to have this conversation live, between laughter and jokes (as we did together the Ultra Trail of Monte Fallere in 2017 wedosport), but the current situation does not allow it.

So tonight, we picked up the phone and we made a very pleasant video call Hesse (Germany) <-> Piedmont (Italy), talking about the current restrictions, the impossibility to hug our relatives in our countries of origin and finally concluding with my five TRAIL questions.

Olivier gave very detailed and precise answers, so I had to do a little summary! πŸ™‚

T like Taaaaac Team.

“Olivier, you are currently the president of the Ultra Taaaaac Team, a trail-running team from Turin. Would you like to say something more about its origin and its spirit?

“You know very well! You were part of the founders! πŸ™‚ This is a team born from the idea of a group of friends with the sole aim to have fun, sharing time together, possibly running on the trails. There are no goals to achieve specific results in the races (obviously there are also those who have this goal) and really the only purpose is to have fun”.

R like Reunion

In the world of Trail Running, Reunion is not only the French island east of Madagascar, but it is the location of the famous Diagonale des Fous (Diagonale des Fous – Trail de Bourbon – Mascareignes – Zembrocal Trail (grandraid-reunion.com)), perhaps one of the most beautiful and fascinating events on the world scene. In 2017 you have participated and finished this race. What memories did it leave you?

Nice memories. I went there with no specific goals. It was my first 100 miles after finishing the Lavaredo Ultra Trail (120 km) a few months earlier. I just wanted to finish it and feel good after the race”.

“It is a very difficult race to prepare. The terrain varies continuously (asphalt, cane fields, rocks, steps) as well as the weather temperature. Therefore, I used all three summer months (July, August & September) to prepare it adequately. In fact, the event takes place in October”.

“It is also a particular race because you can find yourself in the middle of nowhere in the night and then suddenly, in this nothingness, you can find yourself in the middle of improvised parties with music and applause from local groups”.

“However, in the end I would like to go back there and try to run it with a specific goal, perhaps enjoying again the spectacle of the last descent and trying to improve my previous result”

A like Affinity

“General question: what are the similarities in the way of experiencing sport between French and Italian people?”

“Well, at professional level I see many similarities in practicing and living the sport. However, if we look at the amateur part, my impression is that, in France, if you are a teenager who has no sportsman in the family, it is easier to play sports. Namely, in France the sport is looking for people, and not vice versa. In Italy it seems that at 12 years old (for example) you already have to be classified as a professional to do it.”

I like Italy

“Inevitable question: how many years have you been in Italy and what do you like about Italy?”

“Let’s say that I am 100% French but having an Italian dad I have always had a special bond with Italy. I moved from Paris to Turin 11 years ago, with a year to complete the move. I would say a gradual transition”.

“The thing I like the most is a less stressful life than the Parisian one. I also learned to appreciate Italian wines. I miss all the French cheeses a little, but the border is only a couple of hours away anyway!”

L like Langhe

“One of your great passion is cycling and when you can, during the weekends you take part in these long rides from Turin to the Langhe (Langhe – Wikipedia) or even to the sea in Liguria. How much does cycling help you in Trail Running?”

“I would say a lot, especially since I started ultra distance racing. It is however a mutual help. In fact, even 5-6 hour running workouts gave me huge improvements in endurance on the bike. And all this allows me to see beautiful places, without getting home destroyed!”

“Thank you very much Oli. That was the last question. Let’s hope to return soon to run together on the trails”.

Additional information about Olivier

In case you would like to contact Olivier for more detailed information about his being an “emigrantrailer” in Italy, it is useful to know that:

Related projects and articles

Other short chats with “Emigrantrailers” around the world at the link: Emigrantrailers around the world | EmigranTrailer.

Enjoy Trail-Running!

Andrea De Filippo

Original post in english language. For other languages, please open with a web browser (i.e. Chrome) and apply the automatic translation.

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