Valentyna Vereteska, a refugee from Ukraine, won the women’s race at the Jerusalem Marathon on Friday. Her winning time was 2 hours, 45 minutes and 54 seconds. Vereteska is one of an estimated 20 million Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homeland since it was invaded by Russian forces a month ago.
This was the first Jerusalem Marathon to be held in three years. The last one was in 2019. The 2020 event was canceled at the last minute due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Israeli public, eager to get back to life as normal after 2 years of Covid shutdowns, did not let the rain and record setting March cold weather keep them from coming out to run.
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A physiotherapist by profession, Valentyna Vereteska has spent the last month as a refugee in Poland, living with a Polish family there. Her husband, Pavlo Vereteska, is still in Ukraine, fighting the fight against the Russian invasion forces. He is also a runner, but as with the other men of fighting age he remained behind to defend his country. The rest of Vereteska’s family, including her paints and siblings, also remained behind in Ukraine.
Valentyna Vereteska fled to Poland with her 11-year-old daughter when the fighting began with the Russian invasion of her country. She literally fled her home country with nothing more than the clothing on her back. Vereteska said that she and her daughter were forced to wait at the Polish border in freezing cold temperatures for 15 hours before they were given permission to cross. A month later she
About what is going on in Ukraine Valentyna Vereteska said, “I’m stressed, of course I’m nervous about everything that’s happened in Ukraine, but it helped me. It was a very difficult race, it was very hilly, really very hilly.”
“This victory is for peace, for peace, in my country, and not only in my country — for peace in all the world,” she said about winning.