Mira Rai: Soldado, Trail Runner y símbolo del optimismo nepalí


Mira Rai: Soldier, Trail Runner and Symbol of Nepali Optimism

Mira Rai is the image of hope in Nepal. She was born, like so many other Nepalese girls, in a village in the east of the country. A beautiful place, with great mountains and green valleys, with wide lakes and a biodiversity that remains virgin and barely manipulated, where the main trades are based on agriculture and livestock, but also a very difficult place to live. You struggle to get ahead from birth to death, and if you are a woman, in addition to being a burden, your opportunities are reduced to a minimum. There is no way out.

Mira grew up in a very humble family, surrounded by five siblings, but in which she was never treated as an inferior. The women in her family were always an example of strength for her, and she wanted to follow in their footsteps. Like most children in the village, he was busy doing housework, running errands, selling what his parents grew, and carrying large loads of rice from one village to another. Once these obligations are over, you could go to school. Having a dream is unfeasible in Rai's place of origin; leaving the villa, unthinkable.

When the civil war broke out in Nepal, Mira was 14 years old. The economic crisis and scarcity began to become more tangible at home, and after hearing that the Maoist army offered soldiers two meals a day and monthly pay, the young woman decided to enlist. She joined the communist party at the age of 15 in the voice of a girl soldier. The money he earned he sent home, and besides, his parents would have one less mouth to feed.

During the two years he spent as a soldier, he learned to use weapons, but he never participated in a battle. He learned about construction and military strategies and how to cook. In addition, he dedicated himself to training, doing sports like karate, and discovered running; a discipline in which he stood out remarkably above the rest of the soldiers, men and women. In the army there was no distinction between boys and girls in terms of treatment. They were considered equal. "Boys and girls are like heaven and earth: equal."

After placing first in an organized run at the boot camp, Mia began running for two hours a day every day.

In 2006, a peace agreement was signed between the warring parties in Nepal, and more than 4,000 children were expelled from the army for not reaching the age of majority, including Mia, who returned home again . Since he is also unable to enlist in the Nepalese army because he is not yet 18 years old, he moves to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal to try to work, but finds himself without money, without work. It feels small and insignificant. The only thing that she does not stop doing and continues to allow her to feel alive and get up every morning is to go running for hours.

Mira Rai: Soldado, trail runner y símbolo del optimismo nepalí

Seeing that in Kathmandu he will not be able to earn a living, he decides to get a visa to move to Malaysia to work in a garment factory. But then luck plays in his favor, and weeks before moving, he hears about a race that is going to take place in a few days.

Without having any information about this race, Mia signs up as a runner. This competition was, nothing more and nothing less than the Himalayan Outdoor Festival, a test of ultra trail of 50 kilometres, very hard and that presented a complicated terrain and very steep slopes and slopes. It was not the most suitable race for a girl who was not yet familiar with the term “trail running” and had never run professionally before.

Dressed in old, half-ripped sneakers, unprepared, and with an attitude denoting innocence and naivety, Mia begins to move forward. With 10 minutes left to finish, he suffers a drop in blood pressure due to lack of food, excessive exhaustion and putting so much pressure on his body. But then she remembers that she has been running, fighting and overcoming difficulties since she was little. Rai not only finishes the race, under a hailstorm, but wins it. He manages to cross the finish line of the race that changed his life completely.

Pleasantly surprised, the race organizer, a British man living in Kathmandu, offers to train and equip her. He explains to him that trail running is a competitive sport and to which he can dedicate himself professionally. Rai, incredulous and doubtful, assures her that her dream in life is to be a runner. From that moment on, the future trail runner began to train twice a day and to attend English classes.

The second race he faces is in Mustang. Rai wins this race convincingly. The athlete then begins to feel more confident each time and to feel that she was born to run, and to win.

Mira Rai: Soldado, trail runner y símbolo del optimismo nepalí

Her trainer creates a crowdfunding to raise money to equip Mia well and to be able to send her to Italy to compete. Once achieved, in 2014 the runner participates and wins in the 57-kilometre Sella Ronda race, and two weeks later, she takes gold again in the Ultra Trail Degli Eroi.

From here, Mia begins a career of constant victories and becomes one of the great trail talents worldwide. She returns from Hong Kong with gold on her hands, and in 2015, the sportswear brand Salomon, who had followed her path closely, offered to outfit her and help her get to Australia to compete in the Buffalo race. Stampede.

Rai claims to be very happy on the mountain, and very happy when he runs. His mind is capable of ignoring and blocking out temporary pain and he stays relaxed on the races. He has a very characteristic running style. He keeps his body forward and propels himself with the persistent and firm footsteps on the ground. His bodily fluidity and his capacity for mental concentration and evasion are some of the keys to his success. We do not know what the runner thinks or feels while competing or training. He carries tons of talent on the inside, and an impassive and impenetrable demeanor on the outside.

Three months after a devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2016, Mía travels to Chamonix to compete in a race at Mont Blanc (80km). The athlete is especially sensitive to this competition, because, still grieving and mourning the death of family and friends, she wants to do something for her country and bring positive news home on her return trip. However, Mia had never run so many kilometers in a race before.

The course was very hard, but her positive, determined and self-sacrificing mentality helped her win again and cross the finish line first, and after reaching it, with emotion on the surface and infinite happiness, she takes out from his bag the red flag of Nepal and begins to wave it to the rhythm of applause and congratulations from the spectators. That moment was captured by the media and became the cover image of all the newspapers the next day. Mia began to be from that day, a reason for hope for all Nepalis, but, above all, for the young girls who lived, as she had done before, in small villages working on the land to survive.

Mira Rai ganando en Mont Blanc

In 2017 Rai received the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award, and in 2018, the Asian Game Changers Award.

From this moment on, Mia decides that she wants to share her passion and her “gift” with all of her classmates and spread her energy and her positivity throughout her town and the her country. She currently directs the "Exchange and Empower" project together with the Hong Kong Trail Running Women organization, a program whose foundation is to help young athletes who want to compete, train and receive a professional education. Nepalese athletes have the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong to compete in local races.

Thanks to Mia, many girls and women will be able to wave the Nepalese flag as she once did when they reach the finish line.