Mira Rai is not an ordinary woman. At the age of 12, she left school to help her family. At 14, she joined Maoist rebel army to escape manual labour and early marriage. She stumbled into ultra-running in 2014. On that day, she ran the 50km Himalayan Outdoor festival race without knowing it was a race. She thought it was a training run with her friend.
As the only female to finish the course, she won her first race and received $70 prize money. Richard Bull, the race organiser, became her mentor. And the rest was history. She won several international trail runs and sky runs, had a documentary about her life, received sponsorship from Salomon and was declared National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year in 2017.
Having become an inspiration for women all over the world, Mira has a dream to change the lives of Nepali women through Exchange and Empower Program. In March 2018, she came to Singapore for the first time to be a guest speaker at Runners Convention 2018. Here are what she shared with RunSociety.
RS: You were invited to Singapore to attend the Runners Convention 2018, what did you talk about?
Mira Rai: I was sharing my journey from a young girl in an impoverished village to where I am today. I also talked about the program I’m embarking on to empower women and children in my home country, Nepal. Also, I shared more on my training and how I recover from my hectic training schedule. Then, I shared about my plans to help the women and children on the Exchange and Empower Program set up by me.
RS: How will The Exchange and Empower Program help women and children in Nepal?
Mira Rai: The program will empower women by giving them the opportunity to excel in running and sports. The funds raised through this program will be channelled to provide a chance for them to race overseas and to receive guidance on proper training. For more information on this program, you can log on to www.miraraiexchange.org or email me at email@example.com
RS: Why did you fall in love with ultra-running?
Mira Rai: Running is in my blood. I’m most happy when I get the chance to explore the mountains and run. I felt great when I won my first competition in Nepal. I won prize money and apparels and I know this is my chance to excel and escape poverty.
RS: What is your favourite mountain?
Mira Rai: I love every mountain. They are all beautiful to me.
RS: What is the most important decision you make as an ultra-runner?
Mira Rai: The fact that I decided to become a full-time athlete was the biggest and most important decision that changed my life.
RS: What are you most proud of in your life?
Mira Rai: It has to be in 2015 where I won second place in the 110km Ultra Pirineu in Spain. I also became the second-ranked runner in the Skyrunner World Series. I’m very happy that my hard work has paid off and I’m proud to be able to become an inspiration to others.
RS: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Mira Rai: Perhaps when I joined the Maoist Army when I was much younger. I didn’t realise the danger and my family was very worried.
RS: What is your favourite country besides Nepal?
Mira Rai: I feel I haven’t explored enough. I really hope to go to more places. Right now, I think everywhere is really beautiful.
RS: How has life changed after being crowned National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year in 2017?
Mira Rai: Everything is the same. I still run every day. But I hope I have become even more of an inspiration to others who are trying to excel in life.
RS: What message do you have for other runners who want to be ultramarathoners?
Mira Rai: Keep running!
RS: Train Live Compete was the training company that brought you to Singapore. How did you get to know the founder?
Mira Rai: We got connected through my mentor, Richard Bull. It was great that Wei Yong wanted to help me to spread the word about my Exchange and Empower Program and I was told that the proceeds for the event after minus costs will go to World Vision Project in Nepal and I feel good. It’s very kind of her to help our people.
RS: Is this your first visit to Singapore?
Mira Rai: Yes, it’s my first visit and it’s really amazing here. So much good food and really nice people. I also met many of my Nepali friends and I am really happy.
RS: Do you like Singapore’s food? What do you like most?
Mira Rai: Laksa!! The soup is so nice. Perfect.
If you want to support Mira’s dream, you can still participate in Runners Convention Virtual Run now till 14 April 2018!