Milan, Italy—October 26, 2018 — How does an athlete prepare for the toughest challenge of her life? She starts with a great training program, then adds a heavy dose of mental fortitude. Having four of her newest friends along doesn’t hurt, either.
Francesca Valassi, Elisa Adorni, Eleonora Suizzo, Federica Verdoya and Arianna Bianchini were among the hundreds of women who participated in a series of training runs in Italy over the summer that were part of “Negev Adventure”, a program organized by the Italian women’s lifestyle magazine Donna Moderna and co-sponsored by Sensil® Nylon 6.6 and BV Sport. Next week, the five will face off during the ultimate challenge: running 80 kilometers over 4 days in Israel’s Negev Desert.
The finalists, who didn’t know each other before the race, were selected for their enthusiasm as much as for their athletic ability, according to race organizers. Having never run in a desert, all say that they cannot wait to compete in the Negev’s marvelous, untamed scenery where everything– landscape, colors, temperature and even the wind–is extreme. Although their ages span 21 years, and their background and interests vary almost as widely, their dedication to running is the same. And starting Monday, they will embark together on an unforgettable journey that will no doubt seal their friendship for life.
Francesca Valassi, 34, who was born in Voghera but now lives in Milan, works in the legal department of a bank. She first ran on the streets, but then suffered a stress injury that caused her to take up trail running to reduce the strain on her bones. She found she really liked running alone in the woods. “It’s my natural element. When I was little I used to go with my papa, who is a mushroom picker.” When facing obstacles she recites the mantra “Another hill to climb.” It’s the love of nature that caused her to try out for the DM Negev Adventure. “I can’t wait to run in such an immense landscape which I imagine to be filled with light and so different from my usual route.”
Elisa Adorni, 37, from Parma, works in a hospital with the elderly. Though she has never raced in the desert, this doctor of architecture, physical therapy and sports sciences is no stranger to the climate. She worked in archeological excavations in Damascus, Syria and Rabat, Morocco. Although past injuries slowed her down, they have not stopped her. “I just keep going back for more.” Running clears her mind. “I wrote my graduate thesis in my head while training, then put pen to paper at home. The sport is my life.”
The youngest at 21, Federica Verdoya is Genovese by birth, but now splits her time studying and training between Padua and Venice. She believes all goals are achievable if you believe in yourself. “The key to success is perseverance. Never give up.” Her biggest dream is to join the sports division of the Forestry Corps. She imagines the Negev as a primitive place where she can again challenge herself, and where the landscape “can bring out of one strength and emotion that normally remain in the subconscious.”
Twenty-nine-year-old Arianna Bianchini pushes through difficulties by convincing herself during a race that she is almost at the finish line. She started running seven years ago after an autoimmune disease caused her to gain quite a lot of weight. Today, the sport is her security blanket: “It calms me right down.” She likes the speed challenge of half marathons. She imagines the Negev to be hot and vast. “You can challenge nature, but only up to a certain point– it’s so much bigger than you.”
The veteran of the group, Eleonora Suizzo, is from San Gregorio di Catani in Sicily. She began running 30 years ago. Her favorite distance? “The supermarathon of Etna. It starts at the sea and finishes at 3,000 meters elevation, at the southeast crater. From there you can conquer the world!” She says running is her “oxygen:” “It’s the best part of my life. I first realized that on a day when I woke up and didn’t run. Something was missing.” Recently she decided to follow her true calling and open a fashion boutique. With Donna Moderna, she feels comfortable. “For someone like me who loves fashion, style and running are the perfect combination.”
The women will navigate the ultratrail wearing high-performance activewear by BV SPORT made with Sensil® Innergy Nylon 6.6 fabric. Sensil® is the premium brand of Nylon 6.6 made by NILIT, a 40-year-old global company based in Israel. Sensil® Innergy is a technical fabric that uses far-infrared technology to gently reflect the naturally emitted thermal energy back to the body, improving the oxygenation of muscles for peak performance during athletic activity and aiding post-workout recovery.
Wearing such high-performance, specially-engineered garments is extremely important, says Eleonora Suizzo: “The desert will be very hot and we will be under the sun almost the whole time. I suffer from muscle cramps, and these clothes will prevent these during and after the race.”
Despite the competitive spirit that these runners undoubtedly possess, the event organizers say that there will be no podium after the race, since all five finalists are already winners. Which is fine for Francesca Valassi, who doesn’t relish the competition between women. “I would love to live this experience in a spirit of sharing. And take home a suitcase full of emotion, a beautiful load of smiles, tears of joys, hugs, friendships and handshakes.” Arianna Bianchini will set aside her need to win because she knows that this experience is unique, and feels it would be a shame to squander it for a few minutes less on the GPS. Elisa Adorni, though usually very competitive in a race, concurs. “Usually the competition begins when you pin the number on your shirt, and in this race, I won’t be wearing a number…I want to run in a group of just women, something I’ve never experienced. I’m so excited to enjoy this moment with my four new friends.”
Figure 1: l. to r. Eleanora Suizzo, Francesca Valassi, Arianna Bianchini, Federica Verdoya, Elisa AdorniAbout NILIT
NILIT® is a global producer and marketer of high-quality Nylon 6.6 fibers for apparel and other products. The company was founded over 40 years ago in Israel and has grown to be the largest Nylon 6.6 textile producer in the world with manufacturing and marketing operations in key regions including Europe, North America, Latin America, China, Asia Pacific, and Turkey.
Sensil® is the premium Nylon 6.6 from NILIT for apparel. Crafted by masters of precision, it is the new standard of quality for intimates, legwear, activewear, and other style- and performance-driven garments.
About BV Sport
BV Sport is a performance activewear company based in Saint-Etienne, France. Founded in 1989 by a vascular physician who was also a world champion downhill skier, the company has been making premium running apparel, legwear and accessories in its factory in France for more than two decades. Top European sports teams and world-class athletes rely on the company’s advance compression and comfort technology for improved performance, faster recovery and reduced fatigue.
About Donna Moderna
Donna Moderna is the leading women’s Italian editorial network, an ecosystem that, through the magazine, web, and social media channels, encompasses a total audience of 9.8MM contacts per month among readers and users. Donna Moderna has 910K Facebook fans, 522K followers on Twitter, and 76K followers on Instagram.
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