I can’t remember now how Manikala Rai got into running, but it has changed her life. I remember her running on the 2011 Sky Race organised by the French group Les Chevaliers du Vent, pioneers in mountain running in Nepal who’ve always invited one or two girls to join their multistage races. On the first day she was a bit red faced and embarrassed, and towards the finish said something like, “I’m sorry, I don’t know much about this kind of thing.” By day 6, running over the 5500m Cho La and into Lobuche, she was a dot in the distance, uncatchable, by me at least. Right now she is in France with her partner running races and enjoying life there. In between she has won several 100km races in Nepal and Hong Kong. She wears the smile you see below quite a lot.
Running is not explicitly important as such, but it can be a catalyst for many things. If you are reading this, you probably have a good idea what running means for you. It can be a gateway to get fit and strong, to challenge yourself in a measurable way, to travel and discover new places, to get into nature, to meet new people, and to have fun. Probably a lot more that than too. Not so many girls partake in trail running events in Nepal, and certainly not in the ultra distances.
My friend Ola says:
I think when you list things that running does (challenge yourself in a measurable way, to travel and discover new places, to get into nature) in this context it is worth adding that it increases self esteem and confidence. Because so many Nepali girls have low confidence and low self esteem and it’s super important.
We’re certainly not going to force people to run long or hard races, but do have to do more to open the door to trail running and help those who show interest to partake, and allow them to flourish. This should also be coupled with assistance for education or vocational training where possible. We’re open to advice from people who know better here! We’re looking at setting this process up with help from some registered non-profit organisations used to working with this kind of project. In the mean time, for small donations, you can use the form below. We’ll also detail when and how payments are made out of the fund and how things are progressing. Thank you!
Current project status
As of June 2014, we’ve selected one girl, Mira Rai from Bhojpur. Thanks go to Anuj Adhikari, Narayan Acharya, Her Turn and the donors above for getting us this far. We’re helping Mira afford to stay in Kathmandu, improve her English at English For All school, develop a training program to help prepare her for races later in the year, and also some mentoring to help her progress with her education while training. It also turns out she’s got talent at climbing. Let’s see where it goes. We’re looking for other talented girls who want to run and need help to do their best.
Sarah Ryan – from Trail Running magazine (UK) recently asked Mira some questions:
- Why do you love trail running? I grew up in a remote village and walking on trails, collecting fodder for animals, or wood, or to walk to friends houses and school was normal. To collect water was 30 mins straight downhill and more coming back up. When I was younger, there were no shops. My mum had to walk for two days to get salt and other basic things. She needed someone to go with her so I went with her. I recently found there was a sport like this, running on trails like I did at home – wow! So trail running is like home for me, it’s natural.
- How does it make you feel? Really good. I like being in nature and trying to do my best. I’m learning and improving and enjoy the challenge and hard work.
- + 4. How have things changed for you since the sponsored started? What is your trail running ambition? Life is short, I want to do something good and earn a name for girls in this country, and hopefully race internationally so people will know about Nepal. Since I was small, I wanted to be in sports and reach national level. Before sponsorship I had no opportunities. Now my confidence gone up a lot and I can work on doing my best.
The donations and expenses list has been moved to a spreadsheet – a bit easier handle.
Click: Donations / expenses spreadsheet.