Trail-running trail blazer
Lately, world-renowned trail-runner Mira Rai is busy with documentary filming, physiotherapy, organising the fifth Bhojpur Trail Race, inspiring young Nepali athletes through her Mira Rai Initiative, and preparing for a competition in Europe.
When she’s not travelling the world, changing lives or adventuring in remote Nepal, Mira tries to make time for wall climbing and bicycling. Nepali Times first featured Rai in 2014 when she was just starting her running career. She was hot off her very first ultra-marathon race then, and the 23-year-old went on to win three more international races after being noticed by Trail Running Nepal.
Now a part of the international Salomon Running Team, Rai is a household name in both the Nepali and the international sports scene. Having participated in ultra-marathons and trail runs around the globe, Rai has an impressive repertoire of races under her belt. “Every race is my favourite!” she says, but her most memorable is the Mont-Blanc 80km marathon she completed in 2015.
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“Nepal had just been devastated by the earthquake and I wanted to be first in order to lift the spirits of fellow Nepalis,” recalls Rai. “I just kept running and running and when I placed first, it was my proudest moment, one I will never forget.”
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A knee injury last year kept Rai off the trails. Taking a year off after surgery, Rai has been in physiotherapy to regain her former mobility. She has used the time to expand the Mira Rai Initiative to promote trail-running, support female athletes and launch an anti-litter campaign.
Rai credits former Maoist comrade Anupama Magar, the national karateka who gained recognition in the 2019 South Asian Games, with supporting her throughout her journey. The two met when they were guerillas in their late teens, and found they shared a deep passion for sports.
“My dost has supported me throughout my career, and I do not know what I would have done without her,” Rai says fondly of her roommate, who has been especially supportive this past year as Rai has been recovering from her injury and unable to participate in marathons.
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Even with a knee injury, Mira Rai does not stop. She says: “As a young girl from remote Nepal, I never even dreamed of the opportunities I’ve had. With this initiative I want to give other young Nepalis an opportunity to accomplish what I have. I want to keep running till the end.”
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