The Maoist Who Became the Most Adventurous Woman of the Year

Mira Rai! We’re sure that many of you haven’t heard this name. Well if you haven’t you should definitely be reading this. A Nepali woman who once heaved rice sacks up the hills. Who once worked for the Nepali Maoist Army now trail races in the most prestigious trail racing events across the globe. ‘National Geographic’ recently awarded her with title of the ‘Most Adventurous Woman of the Year.’

The Adventurous Woman

Mira Rai grew up in a rural village in the remote regions of eastern Nepal. As a girl child she was constantly reminded that she is a ‘girl’ and needs to know her bounds. A usual thing girls face in Eastern backward societies.

Without any equipment whatsoever she won her first trail race ever.

Mira received education only until 12. Post that she used to haul heavy bags of rice up & down steep trails of the Himalayas. She would make some money by being a part of this trade at the market. Unknowingly for her, that would be a start for something amazing.

For a trail runner there are hardly any better training schedules than to heave heavy loads up and down steep hills many times a day. That was just the beginning. Few years later an army of Maoist rebels entered her village. In order to seek a new life and earn an extra buck, Mira joined them. It was yet another blessing for her as she got to train harder under them. After having served them for 2 years, she returned.

She was then aware of her physical abilities and wanted to be a professional sportsperson. Although the lack of opportunities for Nepali women was a barrier. An adventurous woman was not a synonymous concept with the Nepali society.

The Break

Rai was once spotted running near Kathmandu by two male trail runners. They invited her to participate in a trail race. It was her very first trail race – The Kathmandu West Valley Rim 50 Kms. Without any equipment whatsoever, she went on to win the race. She was the only woman competing in the race. Against all odds she became the champion. Those were just signs of what the prodigy had to offer in the future.

After that particular event people could easily spot her abilities. People from many communities came together and helped Mira to become an international trail runner.

Her Achievements and Vision

Within one year of her participating in trail racing events, she created a world record. In 2015, she became the new world record holder for ‘Marathon du Mont Blanc.’ Other than that she has won at least 13 major trail racing events. She has competed in almost all the major tournaments in the world. Be it Australia, Europe, Asia or America, she has competed successfully everywhere. She has won almost all the major trail racing events in Nepal. It is an amazing feat taking into account her poor childhood and hard living conditions. The facilities she gets to train with are definitely below par but such is the talent of the woman.

An adventurous woman, a national pride! A Champion. She has gone through a lot in life and is well aware of what all it takes for a woman in Nepal to break social constructs and emerge a winner. She is an inspiration for the entire nation. People look up to her and she makes sure she provides as much as she can to them. She organizes small races in Nepal. Her presence attracts a lot of potential participants.

From a child warrior to a global champ – hats off to Mira Rai.

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Joy Mandhotra

A renegade engineer. Breaking social constructs, exploring places, riding new adventures and discovering myself amidst it all.