Mira Rai, the only South Asian nominee for National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year
National Geographic has named Nepal’s Mira Rai as one of ten nominees for this year’s Adventurer of the Year which honours “extraordinary achievement in exploration, adventure sports, conservation, or humanitarianism”. Ms Rai, who is a former Maoist fighter born and raised in a remote village of Bhojpur district, is the only nominee from the South Asian region. People from across the world can vote for one of these ten adventurers until December 16. One with the highest votes will win the People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year in January 2017.
The celebrated ultra marathon runner was in the Maoist army, spending at least two years in the jungle. She joined the armed struggle at 14, two years after she left school. Although many of her fellow comrades were integrated into Nepal Army following a successful peace process, she did not qualify to be a soldier in the professional army. As a result, she struggled in Kathmandu to eke out a living, her numerous interviews suggest.
She chanced into ultra marathon only two years ago while jogging at the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. Last year, Mira Rai made international headlines after her win in the 80-kilometre Mont Blanc ultra marathon competition in Chamonix, France. “The trail course she entered was a bastard, and finishing as she did showed she had something special,” National Geographic quoted Richard Bull, the British co-founder of Kathmandu-based Trail Running Nepal, as saying. He was talking about Mira Rai’s first attempt at trail race at Shivapuri.