Episode 108

Nirjala Tamrakar - Nepal's Mountain Queen

Nirjala Tamrakar is from Nepal and from 2001 to 2012, she was known as the Mountain Queen, because she was the first female Nepalese Mountain Biking Champion.  She was also the first Nepalese woman to take part in a UCI Mountain Bike World Cup race, in France in 2012 and she’s done the World’s highest endurance event, the Yak Attack. Now in her early 40s, she’s a mum of two, she moved to the UK with her British husband Dan in the middle of lockdown in late 2020. And in 2021, she became the first Nepalese woman to complete an iron distance triathlon, when she did the UK Ultimate Triathlon, in Whitchurch. 

You'll hear:

10:10 Start of the interview with Nirjala, when we hear about her growing up in Kathmandu in Nepal ' I was a bookworm and there wasn't any physical activity to do so I didn't do any physical activity growing up. It was only study, study.'

13:00 Nirjala explains who she started to do yoga and how she heard about a bike race and then becoming Nepal Mountain Biking Champion.

16:00 The reaction of her friends and family as Nirjala got into Mountain Biking. 'why do you go in the muddy road, what do you get from it? You look insane, there is no logic in it. I wanted to follow my passion. I didn't want to do normal work in an office. I wanted to become something big, not normal and I wanted to leave my legacy.

19:34 Nirjala puts some of her success down to her childhood, which involved doing all of the house work. 'We had to do everything by hand. We had to carry water, we had a house made of mud and we had to clean the floor with cow dung. So I was stronger'.

25:00 We talk about changing attitudes for mothers in Nepal and how there is more encouragement for women to stay fit and healthy.

27:00 Nirjala talks about her 'mixed' feelings when she competed at a UCI World Cup in France ' my ranking was like 2,000+ in the World. Their preparation was huge. They had huge vans with every equipment. I was just their with my husband and I felt so small. But he said 'Be proud of yourself'.

33:00 We talk about cycling at high altitude and the side effects of altitude sickness 'even if you are very very fit, you can still struggle with altitude sickness. You get all sorts of symptoms and you can lose your mind. If you don't decide what to do at the right time, it can be life threatening.'

36:00 Nirjala explains why she didn't quit the 'Yak Attack' Race and the mental struggles she faced and how she kept going. 'when you have no other option, you have to be strong'

37:00 Nirjala on overcoming her fear of open water swimming to become the first Nepalese female to complete an iron distance triathlon. 'This was a big fantasy. I didn't know if I could do it or not. But I wanted to and it was a big motivating factor to be the first Nepalese female.'

44:00 Nirjala's message for the endurance community in Nepal and how the stereotypes have changed. 'All of the men used to say 'you can't do this, when are you quitting?' But they don't do it anymore, there is a huge MTB craze in Nepal and people are riding all of the time to ride and have the experience of Nepal. If you keep following your passion, you can reach it.'

Find out more about this week's guests

Nirjala Tamrakar Instagram

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About the Podcast

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Inside Tri Show
Triathlon podcast from Helen Murray with awesome interviews

About your host

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Helen Murray

Helen has been working in triathlon for a decade as an athlete, coach and broadcaster.

Helen hosts the Inside Tri Show podcast bringing you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond