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Story by Robbie Lawless
Global Social Media Editor-in-Chief, Salomon Running

It's been a whirlwind 18 months for Nepalese trail running sensation Mira Rai. A time that's seen the former kid-soldier's life transform from an uncertain future to becoming a beacon of hope for a whole generation of young women and men. It reached new heights late last week when Mira took home the prestigious National Geographic Adventurer of the Year People's Choice award.

The People's Choice Award is voted for by National Geographic's audience from an annual selection of ten Adventurers of the Year – people who “have realized big dreams in exploration, conservation, cultural restoration, adventure sports, and humanitarianism.” Previous People's Choice winners have included legends such as Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, Felix Baumgartner and fellow Salomon athlete Kilian Jornet.

“It’s like a dream,” Mira said. “Just a few years ago I was clueless about what to do and was preparing to go abroad for manual labor.”

As luck would have it, Mira instead entered a local 50k trail race, beat everyone – male and female – and, ultimately, changed the course of her life and potentially the lives of many others.

“I hope to be able to connect to the young generation and inspire them. I visit schools and organizations regularly to talk about outdoor adventures, especially trail running, to motivate kids,” she continued. “I am also organizing a series of short trail running races in Nepal to encourage women and the youth to take up an active lifestyle, and explore beyond the confines of electronics and gadgets.”

It's this willingness to give back to her community, to use her success to initiate local change at home in Nepal and her passion to empower Nepalese women and women in other countries with limited opportunities that sets Mira apart and makes her an inspiration for millions around the world.

As she continues her long recovery from knee surgery, and with her sights set on running this year's Maxi Race in France, the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year People's Choice award is clarification to Mira that her passion for running and activism is being noticed.

“Persistence and hard work go a long way to achieve any dream,” she said. “Women should not think they are inferior or unable to pursue their ambitions, and have to see themselves as equals to men. Definitely, no sport—or, for that matter, any discipline—is too difficult, let alone impossible, for women to conquer. Go and shatter the glass ceiling with your talent and diligence.”

As for taking home the highly-coveted award, Mira is as humble and thankful as ever.

“I am very excited to be named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, which has been possible with generous support and love from everyone,” she says. “This award is a boost for my morale and I hope to be able to perform better. Furthermore, I hope to be able to connect to the young generation and inspire them.”

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