Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Valentina Veretska, 32, finished first among female runners, clocking in at 2:45:54. Her husband remains in Ukraine fighting the Russians.

By Abigail Klein Leichman/Israel21c

Ukrainian athlete Valentina Veretska, 32, fled to Poland with her 11-year-old daughter to escape the Russian onslaught on her city of Mariupol. She had only one small suitcase.

On March 25, holding Israeli and Ukrainian flags, she was the first woman to cross the finish line in the 11th annual Jerusalem Winner Marathon.

Veretska ran the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) race in 2:45:54. Israeli Olympic athlete Ageze Guadie won the men’s race, clocking in at 2:37:17.

Veretska had applied to participate in the marathon more than a month ago, just days before she realized she would have to flee her home. With the help of the Jerusalem municipality, she landed in Israel two days before the marathon, following several weeks in Poland without any opportunity to train.

Among approximately 25,000 runners, Veretska was accompanied by a group of about 40 other Ukrainian refugees. Israel has taken in more 12,500 Ukrainians fleeing the war. Veretska’s husband remains behind, fighting the Russians.

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