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From Village Girl to World Ultramarathon Champion: The Inspiring Story of Nepal's Mira Rai

Categories: South Asia, Nepal, Health, Sport, Women & Gender
Mira Rai, Trail Runner from Nepal. Image by Flickr user rpb1001. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 [1]

Mira Rai, trail runner from Nepal. Image by Flickr user rpb1001. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Trail running, one of the difficult and enduring sports, is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, it comes natural to Nepal’s Mira Rai. Recently, she won the 80-kilometre Mont-Blanc race [2], recognised as one of the most technical and difficult races in France, completing the distance in 12 hours and 32 minutes [3].

Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai congratulated Mira on Twitter:

Congratulations Mira Rai on winning international marathon. Disqualified in the army integration, the former…

Having joined the Maoist rebel army [6] as a teenager, she was disqualified during the army integration process.

Introduced to trail running just a year and few months ago, she is poised to become one of the finest ever athletes in trail running. Her sports journey started with the Himalayan Outdoor Festival 50-kilometre race in Kathmandu in March 2014. She won without much preparation and went on to win the Mustang Trail Race the following April.

Outside Nepal, she began her winning spree [6] with Sellaronda Trail Race [7] (57 kilometres) and Trail Degli Eroi [8] (83 kilometres) in Italy in September 2014.

In October, she won the 50-kilometre Ultra Marathon Mountain Race [9] in Hong Kong. Since then she has never looked back.

Lloyd Belcher, a photographer and filmmaker based in Hong Kong, tweeted:

Mira comes from a small village in Bhojpur district of eastern Nepal. She credits her success to the hardships through which she went as a child.

In one of the interviews [14], she says:

As a young girl I was not very interested in doing household chores, which is why my mother gave me the physical tasks like bringing water from the river, which is two hours down and three hours back home. I also used to carry a bag of rice to the market to sell and bring money home. I grew up running.

She trains hard and that keeps her fit and strong. Her daily routine [14] comprises waking up early, running 10-12 kilometres in the morning and 10-12 kilometres in the evening. She also does rock climbing and cycling.

Mira [15], now an established name in trail running, is an inspiration to aspiring ultra-marathoners. And not to forget, the millions of boys and girls back in Nepal for whom climbing up and down the treacherous pathways in the hills carrying loads on their backs is natural.

She has a precious piece of advice for them: