A Ukrainian athlete fled the war and won the Jerusalem Marathon while her family still hides underground from Russia’s troops near Kherson
Valentyna Veretska was forced to escape the war with her 11-year-old daughter a month ago. Now she lives in Poland with a host family. She is a Ukrainian champion in field racing and has won three international marathons in recent years. Veretska was specially invited to join Marathon by the Jerusalem Municipality, the organizer of the Jerusalem Marathon.
“When I received the invitation from the marathon in Jerusalem, it opened my eyes, I realized that I could defend Ukraine, but not in Ukraine. I did not think at all about the difficulty and the need to breathe, I just thought I had to do it for the world to hear my voice,” Valentyna says. She finished her 42,195 km long race in 2:45:54.
The rest of her family is still hiding in underground shelters near the Ukrainian city of Kherson, and her husband is fighting against the Russian invaders in the country’s military.
“Sometimes I get a message from my sister or my mom that they are online, and I call. My sister tells me they are fine, but I hear she is crying, she tries not to cry, but I feel she is crying, I hear everyone.”