Nepal’s Mira Rai is back! After knee surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation, Mira proved that she is back to her usual self by taking second at the 2018 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. In the following interview, Mira talks about her knee injury, surgery, and rehab; if she feels she has her fitness back now; how the race played out for her; and where she’d like to race in 2018.
Read our results article for the full race story.
Mira Rai Post-2018 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m with Mira Rai. It’s two mornings after the 2018 Vibram Hong Kong 100k where you finished second place. Congratulations, Mira!
Mira Rai: Thank you so much!
iRunFar: How are you doing? This is your first big race back after your knee injury.
Rai: Yes, because this is the first time since I injured it so much.
iRunFar: The last time iRunFar interviewed you was a couple years ago at Ultra Pirineu. You had a lot of big races, and, then, you had a big injury. Can you tell the iRunFar audience what happened to your knee?
Rai: My knee, I didn’t exactly know what happened. It was a long time injured. I didn’t know exactly why. When I ran long, long distances, then, at the finish of Ultra Pirineu… I had surgery in Italy in 2016. Now, one year and four months later, it’s going better.
iRunFar: One year and four months ago was when your surgery was?
iRunFar: Just so I understand that, you had pain running for a long time before the surgery?
Rai: No then, but at that time, I couldn’t stand for 15 minutes, but running and training was fine. It didn’t matter. I enjoyed it so much. My Team Salomon and my friend from Italy, he and another Nepali friend, and my physio, they suggested to me that it was better to do surgery, and then after, I could run more strongly. They convinced me. They did surgery, and now I’m going better and better. I’m very happy. It’s like a new life.
iRunFar: You are a very active person. You express yourself through your body. What was it like to not be able to move and use your body for so long?
Rai: Moving is very important. I like to move differently for different exercises. I really love to move. Then when that happened…
iRunFar: Was your first race back after surgery the Sai Kung race, or did you do another race before that?
Rai: I did in the UK, the Ben Nevis Ultra 120k, and the second one was Lantau 50k. This was the third one.
iRunFar: Ben Nevis was in September?
Rai: September 26.
iRunFar: September one race, then December, then in January, the Vibram Hong Kong—when you started the Hong Kong 100k, did you feel like your fitness was back to normal?
Rai: It’s coming back to normal. I’m very happy to be back in the trails.
iRunFar: Talk to me about how you felt at the beginning the race on Saturday morning. It’s road running for awhile. You’re a trail runner. How were the roads?
Rai: Yes, many, many roads, and it’s flat. For me, I prefer the trail and technical more, but on Saturday, it’s more concrete route. I move myself. It was very good.
iRunFar: You were still running very quickly even though it was concrete. You ran immediately into the second-place position.
Rai: I slowly, slowly just ran.
iRunFar: One thing you’re become known for at races is your smile while you’re racing. Did you feel happy out there all day?
Rai: Yeah, I’m very happy to run. In the check points, thank you so much for everybody’s support for me. I had so much fun. I did some selfies also in there. It’s very good. I enjoy so much.
iRunFar: I did hear you were taking selfies with people and with scenery during the race.
Rai: Yeah, it’s very fun.
iRunFar: 100k, there’s no way around it. It’s a long way. Did it get hard for you at any time?
Rai: No, it’s a little bit on the road was hard, but it’s okay.
iRunFar: It was alright even though it was hard. Hong Kong is famous for its monkeys. Did you see any out there along your way?
Rai: Oh, my gosh! I think 5k and always many monkeys. We have a big warning to not eat or drink then because they’d come and pick off our food. Yeah! We have also in Nepal many monkeys. I miss them. Oh, yeah, here is more monkeys! Wow!
iRunFar: These monkeys are unusual. They sort of follow you and come after your racing food.
Rai: Yeah, it’s a bit of a worry. In Nepal also we have a monkey temple, and if we carry something in the hand, they pick up and eat. Oh, we don’t eat or drink… just run, run!
iRunFar: So, I like monkeys, and I think they’re really cute, but I didn’t like the monkeys this weekend.
Rai: Yeah, if there’s something, but it’s very nice.
iRunFar: This backpack over there, there was a monkey climbing all over it trying to open it with the zippers.
Rai: Yeah, it’s a bit of a worry, but they didn’t see food, so they didn’t get us. I just ran and ran. It was good.
iRunFar: Last question for you—now that you’re back and now that you’re healthy, what do you expect your year of racing to look like? Where will you go?
Rai: This is studying season, so I think I’ll do a couple or six race competitions in Europe.
iRunFar: Would you care to share one or two races that you’re planning to go to?
Rai: I think in Italy I’ll do Lavaredo 100k, and another in Spain… and also I think I’ll do Trofeo Kima. Anymore, I’ll have to check my schedule.
iRunFar: Check and see how busy you are. Trofeo Kima is a race that will probably be very good for you with all the rocks and technical.
Rai: Yes, I’m very excited to do the Kima race. It will be fun.
iRunFar: Congratulations to you on your second place. Congratulations to you on your return to fitness and health after your surgery. We’ll see you somewhere around the world.
Rai: Thank you so much for everything. Thank you. [to the camera:] Hello everybody. Bye Bye! See you later! Thanks!