National Geographic Announces People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year

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Way back in November National Geographic announced its selection for the 2016 Adventurers of the Year, with ten very worthy individuals earning that title. But of course, that still left the winner of the  People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year, which is awarded to the person from the original list who earned the most online votes from general public. That voting took place through mid-December, and now all of the ballots have been counted and the recipient can be named at long last.

This year’s Nat Geo People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year is none other than Mira Rai, a trail runner from Nepal who is blazing her own route. The naturally gifted runner didn’t even begin competing seriously until two years ago, when she inadvertently found herself taking part in the Kathmandu West Valley Rim 50k race. But having grown up in the Himalaya, and spent her whole life adapting to the challenges of those rugged mountains, running was simply part of life there. In that first race, she ran further than she had ever gone before. She was also the only female participant, and yet she managed to finish even though she didn’t have fancy gear, equipment, or even food and water.

Since then, her career has taken off, and Mira has attracted the attention of sponsors. But, in 2016 she suffered a ruptured ACL that kept her from running as much as she would like. So, to refocus her energy elsewhere she organized the first race to take place in her home village, a simple outpost where most people are content to just eek out a subsistent living. More than 100 people came to participate, and the always-jubuliant Rai proved once again that she could beat the odds.

Now, she has done that yet again. Bolstered no doubt by a lot of votes from back home, the Nepalese runner now stands alone as the People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. Read more about her story here, and check out the video below to get a more personal look at this inspiring trail runner.

Congratulations Mira! This honor is well deserved.

Kraig Becker