Nepali trail runner Mira Rai National Geographic Adventurer of the Year
Mira Rai once hauled rice sacks through the Himalaya. Now she wins international trail races and inspires young Nepali women. Meet your 2017 Adventurer of the Year. Nepal has lots of high adventure ultra trail marathon, Everest trail Marathon, Manaslu Trail Race, Annapurna 100, Annapurna Mandala Trail, Great Himalayan Trail. Participating different ultra marathon and keeping it at the international level gives her inspiration to win National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. The anonymity may not last long. Eighteen months ago, Rai was just another young Nepalese from a desperate village who grew up never sure of two, let alone three meals in a day. Now the former Maoist child soldier is winning international races in one of the world’s toughest sports – races of 50km-100km over mountains – and may be on her way to global stardom. Rai faces her greatest challenge yet: inspiring the women of Nepal to fight back against the deep conservatism in the country and “follow their destiny” as she puts it.
“In a way, the biggest thing Mira has done is shown what is possible,” says Niraj Karki, a friend and two-time national rock climbing champion in Nepal. “Even coming from the worst of situations, the best can happen when effort, pure determination, and people come together to create a chance. And it is this chance that she wants to spread
Today the running world recognizes her as a high-elevation trail racing phenom. And she is on a mission to help both women and men of Nepal through sports. As part of that mission, while recovering from knee surgery last October, she organized a race in her home village.
Rai says her work to empower others has just begun. “We have realized that Nepal has tremendous potential to develop competitive athletes, for which we’re organizing a series of trail races in Kathmandu,” Rai says. “These are short races aimed for both beginners and experienced runners.”
Wasfia Nazreen, the first Bangladeshi person to climb the seven summits and a past Adventurer of the Year, knows first-hand the impact Rai has had on the young women of Nepal. “For someone who has left school so early and missed the learning we take for granted, Mira has been able to turn back time and set a rare example by being the change herself,” she says. “It’s hard to find good role models for young women in our region, especially one coming from the same rural village background as most of the young generation. Mira is paving paths not just in terms of being able to speak nationally on gender equality as a woman who has found international success, but by also getting young people into trail running through the new Kathmandu Trail Race Series. The grit and joy she embodies throughout all her hardships and victories are an inspiration to all of us!”
Ben Ayers, the Kathmandu-based country director for the dZi Foundation, says Rai’s achievements inspire hope in Nepal, which remains mired in poverty and corruption despite the end of its civil war and adoption of a new constitution. “Mira embodies the aspirations of an entire generation of young Nepalis,” Ayers says. “Her transition from child soldier to the world-class athlete has very much paralleled Nepal’s coming of age after the civil war.”
Copy from: National geography, The guardian