Nepal: An interview with the trail runner Chhechi Sherpa Rai

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I'm really honoured to offer you this talk with one of the most ispiring women I know. Maybe you read about Mira Rai amazing story, Chhechi runs a bit on her trail but as you can see here her character and personality are original and strong. Sometimes interviews are just a banal rituals of asking and answering, but not this time: this interview gave me a deep emotion.

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Ilaria: You are the first Nepali woman to complete the Great Himal Race, the race you can see from the moon. It must have been incredible! Tell us about your experience.

Chhechi: I am very very happy that I got to take part in Great Himal Race. And I also learnt that we can accomplish even the most difficult feat if we really want to do it.
Ilaria: What is your best memory from this race?

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupChhechi: The best memorable part of my 45 days race is the day that we were supposed to reach Paanchpokhari (five lakes). My father used to talk a lot about Paanchpokhari. It has a great importance in my culture. But my father could never visit this place. When we were running that day, I remembered my father a lot. And I was very excited to see the lake for me and for him. Although on that day, we were not able to reach Paanchpokhari. We slept in a cave for the night and reached the lake only in the next morning but I was very thrilled to finally see the place that I had imagined since my childhood.
Ilaria: ...and the worst moment you had to face? 
Image may contain: 2 peopleChhechi: There are many instances of worst moments but two in particular I want to share. On the day we had to cross Lauribinyak pass, there was a huge wind and it was also snowing. We succeeded in crossing the pass only after 3 attempts. When we reached camp, it was 9.30 PM at night. Another worst moment was when we were crossing the Tashi Lapcha Pass. We had to run right below the hill where stones were rolling down constantly-there was constant landslide but we didn't have other way. It was really scary and risky.
Ilaria: Nepali society is changing and the role of women is a part of this historical change, still Nepali culture looks quite male dominated. How do you feel about it? What do your parents think about your running career for exemple? Being a woman made it more complicated?
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standingChhechi: In Nepali society, it is still hard for women to do anything. I feel very sad to see this. But despite this prevalent societal attitude, thankfully my family has never given me any hard time. They have encouraged me in every step and have appreciated me for pushing myself. It is true that it is more difficult for women in Nepal to do anything including running, but for me I now have found that it is harder to run as a mother than as a woman. Because when I was doing this Great Himal Race, my son Alex was just two years old. I constantly worried about him and missed him. When I was just myself I did not have to think anybody except myself when running.
Ilaria: If you could change one thing in the world what would you like to change?
Chhechi: If I could change one thing in this world,  I would make everybody equal so that there is no such thing as poor and rich, so that there is no such difference between people.
Ilaria: ...and in yourself?
Chhechi: If there's one thing I could change about myself, maybe I would have liked to become a man just to experience how it feels to be so carefree and without chain. Men and boys enjoy so much freedom. Society never says anything bad about them, nobody prevents them from doing anything that they like. Nobody dominates them or exploits them. They go wherever they want to go, and nobody stops them from doing so.
Ilaria: Finally Nepal just held its local elections for the first time in 20 years. Some people are very incolved, others are more sceptical or indifferent. How do you feel about it and about Nepal political situation in general?
Chhechi: I really don't like Nepali politics that much and I also don't have that much knowledge about what goes on in Nepali politics. What I have seen is, whichever leader or party comes to power the common Nepali people never benefit from any of them. That's what I don't like about our politics.
Ilaria: Thank you very much! your experience is really inspiring!

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