28 June-4 July 2013 #662

Run Maya run

A Nepali athlete is taking part in a 17 hour triathlon and helping raise money for Kathmandu’s street children

CATCH HER IF YOU CAN: Maya Sherpa runs the NYC Olympic Triathlon in 2011.
For the past six months, Maya Sherpa’s daily routine has revolved around training for the 17 hour long Ironman Triathlon taking place on 28 July at Lake Placid, a village in upstate New York. The 32-year-old who is from Kathmandu and currently works in NYC gets up early in the morning and swims for an hour or two. After work she goes for short runs around the city. Her weekends and vacations are set aside for long distance running and riding.

Contestants will begin this year’s Ironman Triathlon at 7am with a two-loop 3.86 km swim in Mirror Lake. They will then hop on their bikes at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval and complete two loops of 180.25km with stunning views of Adirondack Mountains in the background. For the last leg of the race, participants will come back to the Oval and set off on the 42.2km run which will take them through downtown and around the lake. The final clock in time is midnight.

For an athlete of her strength and skills, it’s hard to believe that Sherpa had little interest in sports when she was in school and only started exercising and becoming more active during her college years at Baruch in New York. “In 2005 when I went to cheer my friend at a marathon, I saw many disabled athletes competing who inspired me to begin running,” she says. “I realised everything is possible if I put my mind to it. Nothing else matters.”

So far Sherpa has made it across the finish lines of NYC, Miami, Tennessee, and Philadelphia marathons, three half Ironman races (2km swim, 90km biking, 21km running), and numerous 100 mile bike rides. The first Nepali to compete in the Ironman Triathlon, she hopes to raise $5,000 for Empower One, a New York based NGO that supports underprivileged children in Nepal. Empower will use money from the race to provide shelter, healthcare, and rehabilitation for street children in Kathmandu.

Maya practices for the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.

“When I see orphans and abandoned children living without education or basic needs, it pains me. I am healthy and fortunate to be doing what I love and if I can raise money at the same time, I don’t mind running an extra mile or swimming an extra lap,” she says. The Ironwoman’s next mission: the demanding three day La Vuelta cycling race in Puerto Rico.

Ngima Pakhrin

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Read also:

Extreme Annapurna in Nepal

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