Below is a happy Mira Rai. Mira is 23 (and also 25 at the same time, you see in Nepal you can be flexible with dates on your certificates according to the age you need to present) and is from Okhaldunga to the east of Kathmandu and just south of the “Everest Region”.
Mira likes running. In Nepal races are referred to as ‘games’ and participants and ‘players’ which puts a happy perspective on it. She’s been playing mainly in 5km and 10km races here in Kathmandu. She’s left school far away in the flat are of the Terai and is doing self study in Kathmandu where most of the races are held. She trains at the stadium for speed and on the uphill road out of town otherwise. At the moment she’s staying with a friend as, as a student, she’s few resources to rent her own room.
Mira showed up at the 50km race at the Himalayan Outdoor Festival last weekend (22nd March). The weather was pretty bad with a heavy hail storm at 2pm which continued throughout the afternoon. The course was tough as it tried to follow the valley rim which has plenty of up and down. She was the only local female runner and the only one to complete the course.
There are few women who are able or willing to compete in ultra races and often few opportunities or resources are given to women to follow sports at all. So it was pretty encouraging to see Mira’s enthusiasm. Last weekend’s event was sponsored by the Peaks Foundation, an amazingly active group of women who raise money for other organisations who in turn work to empower women. The sponsored entry fee for Nepali women and a running t-shirt to lower the barrier to entry, and the women’s prizes for the 50km event.
Many came to the 13.5km event (up a big hill, then down again – not easy) and Mira was the only local girl to do the 50km. The first male finished in 7 hours 5 minutes. Mira finished in 9 hours something, at 45 minutes sheltering from the hail and 15 minute searching for the trail – the trail markings were washed away (sorry everybody!) So for her first 50km race, she did pretty well.
And she wants to run more. “Yes she is very good good runner,” says Narayan Acharya, a local runner.