Did you play any other sports when you were younger?
"I did track and field. I ran the 800 and 1,500 meters. Fast disciplines, on which I obtained good results. Then, as the years went by, I lost explosiveness and the races didn't go as they should. But this new and fantastic adventure in the mountains was waiting for me around the corner.
An adventure that definitely brought you many emotions and many landscapes to experience. Is there a race you can never forget?
"My debut at the Pierra Menta EDF Eté. First of all, because it was one of my first experiences in the high mountains, I was able to experience the trail in a new environment. Also, it was my first race in the snow. I was born in Mozambique and to see those white flakes in the middle of a race was an incredible experience".
What instead is the most important race in your career?
"Definitely the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships. It was the opportunity to meet the strongest athletes in the world. I was able to live an unforgettable experience, which I still carry within me, and which shaped me as a person and trail running athlete. To overcome the difficult moments, both in daily life and in the race, I think of that day."
What are the mountains in your heart?
"The Serra da Estrela in Portugal. It's my favorite training ground, one of the most beautiful places in the country. A rural, wild place where I spend most of my time training for longer races, and where I can escape the noise and bustle of the city."
Speaking of hustle and bustle, you live in Lisbon today, in the city. When you escape and go to the mountains, what do you feel in the silence of the woods?
"In the mountains I let myself go, I get a little lost with my mind. I always manage to do deep reflections. They are moments of inner rediscovery, in which I can perceive the greatness of our world, but also feel the satisfaction of having arrived in places that many cannot reach. Environments that are still virgin and pure, where I face my sporting challenges and try to win them."
When Helio isn't running in the mountains, what does he do in Lisbon?
"I currently run a small cookie company called Love In the Bag. I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's degree in psychology of social organizations, but I don't currently practice the profession. I am also in the process of founding an outreach trail tunning school. I dream of opening a small bar and producing healthy drinks and food for athletes, whether trail or other sports. A place where we can talk about sport and also bring the family to share moments of relaxation, enjoying natural and genuine products.
You plan your future, then. Also because we know you're living a good moment right now...
"Right now I'm living something extraordinary. My wife Dina Costa and I had our first daughter, Maria Jasmim. It was a very special moment, really. It is one of the strongest emotions you can experience."