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Ukrainian refugee wins Jerusalem Marathon

Veretska competed in the race after fleeing Ukraine in late February with her 11-year-old daughter

Photo by: Sportphotography

A Ukrainian refugee who fled her country with her daughter after Russia invaded, has won the 2022 Jerusalem Marathon, which took place Friday. Valentyna Veretska, 31, of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, was the first woman across the finish line in 2:45:54.

Veretska competed in the race after fleeing Ukraine in late February with her 11-year-old daughter. She was invited to the Jerusalem Marathon after her third-place finish at the Riyadh Half Marathon in Saudi Arabia in early March. Her husband stayed behind in Ukraine, since men of fighting age (18-60) are not allowed to leave. Veretska is currently living in Israel with her daughter seeking refuge. 

Her time was six minutes shy of her personal best of 2:38:51, which she ran last fall in Albania. Ageze Guadie, 33, from Israel, finished first in the men’s category, with a time of 2:37:17. Veretska was third overall.

The 16-kilometre marker at the Jerusalem Marathon. Photo: C/C

Jerusalem’s hilly terrain makes the marathon particularly challenging, as runners run upwards of 400 metres of elevation gain over the 42.2 kilometres.

Ahead of the Jerusalem race, Veretska told reporters that she would “run for peace.” She is currently ranked 444th among female marathoners by World Athletics.

Race organizers estimated around 40 Ukrainian immigrants and refugees took part in the race, among thousands of others. On March 25, Israeli immigration reported that over 5,000 Ukrainian Jews have fled to the country to escape their homeland since the start of the war.