Mira Rai grew up in a remote village in Eastern Nepal where getting the daily basics like food and water for her family meant walking through rough trails for days at a time. But little did she know it was all part of the journey to get where she is today. In March 2014 Mira competed in her first ultra-race at the Himalayan Outdoor Festival 50km. She shocked not only the trail running community, but also herself when she won her first ever competitive race. And now, almost one year later, she’s gone from zero to elite trail runner.
Mira is sponsored by a girls running fund so she can stay in Kathmandu to train, compete in running competitions and improve her English. She’s travelling the world and doing things she would only have dreamed of as a young girl. She says, “Before sponsorship, I had no opportunities. Now my confidence has gone up a lot and I can work on doing my best”. And she’s certainly doing that.
In the past year she’s come first in some of the world’s most renowned trail running races including The North Face Kathmandu Ultra, The Hong Kong 50 Series, The Asia Skyrunning Championship, The Mustang Trail Runner and the Sellaronda Trail Race in Italy just to name a few.
While some runners make a natural progression from the track to the trails, according to Mira trail running was already second nature to her as it was part of everyday life growing up in Nepal. She says, “Trail running is like home for me. It’s natural. I like being in nature and trying to do my best”.
For Mira, it isn’t all about racing and competing. She wants to give hope to young girls and runners in Nepal who, like herself, had never heard of trail running as a sport before. And even if they have, can only dream of reaching an elite level. She says, “In the future I want to set up a club and open the door to other women who show an ability to be runners. I can inspire them and be a role model”.
At the moment Mira and Lloyd Belcher, who’s well known in Asia for his sports film and photography, are making a short film that focuses on Mira and her journey to rise to an elite trail runner. The film will be in Mira’s native language and she hopes it will be a true inspiration for young girls and aspiring runners in Nepal. But they need help to make this film a reality.
They’re hoping to raise $5,000 to recover the expected expenses. And anything raised over that will go towards supporting Mira get to Europe to compete against some of the best trail runners in the world.
*Main photo (Mira winning the Sellaronda race in Italy) credit by www.pegasomedia.it.