Mira’s Run for Life
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Great things are achieved only with minimal resources. When there is no option left, but to perform, only then a new trendsetter is born. Such is a story of Mira Rai, a trail runner or mountain runner from Nepal. During her brief stint in Kolkata from Nepal on her way to United Kingdom to participate in the 3 Peaks Race in Yorkshire, her story is found by this Journalist.
Struggle and hardship comes natural for people who represent hills. Mira was born and brought up in the midst of life struggle in the Bhojpuri district of Nepal. Her father works in farms to run the family including her mother and four other siblings. Now Mira is the only hope of the family.
For Mira this extraordinary capability is normal for a girl like her from a struggling family from such a difficult terrain in Nepal. She remembers working very hard as a child, on the field and off it, hauling more than 25 kilograms of rice over uneven terrain for her mother so the family could sell it and make a little money.
In her own words by the age of 8 years she was getting water from the river a long uphill slog carrying heavy buckets and accompanying her mother on the two-day trek to the nearest market. “I failed class eight, dropped out of the school and therefore worked for two years trading rice, I was pretty small then, and could only carry 28 kilograms. The days were long, leaving at 4 a.m. to walk to the market and returning home at 7 p.m. It was a life people consider hard, but now I think it was really good training”.
More than most village girls, Rai grew strong, self-reliant, confident, and even ever so slightly worldly. When rebels came to her village during the 10-year civil war in Nepal, the 14-year-old joined the Maoist army, more for their promise of three meals a day and their fitness regimen than for their ideology. She spent two battle-free years learning how to clean and fire a rifle, and practicing karate, calisthenics, and running. When the army disbanded, she moved to the big city, Kathmandu, and continued to run on a track, without success.
Now, when she’s not travelling around the world, she lives in Kathmandu with her yoga instructor, Tito Togni but during early days of struggle in running, Mira was on the verge of leaving Nepal and travelling further east to Singapore to earn a living. But Togni stopped her and insisted that running was her calling.
Prior to March 2014, Mira had never heard of trail running. In fact, at that time, she was out of money, about to abandon the whole Kathmandu, but Togni and other friends suggested a new kind of race they had just heard of. Entry was free for Nepali women and everyparticipantwill get a T-shirt!
This is how on March 22, 2014, she showed up at the Himalayan Outdoor Festival 50K (31 miles) trail race, organized by Trail Running. This she considers her longest run till date with about 12 miles. Some nine hours later, she discovered trail running and won her first race. She was the only Nepali in the small women’s field, and the only female finisher.
Name: Mira Rai
Claim to fame: International ultramarathon trail runner
Wins: Placed first for the Mont-Blanc 80km circuit in 2015. She says she ran 11 hours non-stop for this one, her longest yet Placed second for the 110km Salomon Ultra Pirineu 2015 in Spain (in picture below)
This year: She will be running the 3 Peaks Race in the UK, the 75km Trans-Vulcania World Series and the BUFF Epic Trail over the Pyrenees, among others
This is how the journey of Mira Rai, the trail runner begins. This is how she is unfolding and discovering herself every new day. As she is now participating in the 3 Peaks Race in Yorkshire in United Kingdom. If she wins a new star will born and the world will again see and know the hardship behind mountains and hills. Running now for Mira is not just running from social taboos, poverty, but it is run towards eternity, towards self-discovery. As she says “I love running… it’s liberating”.
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