Proudly running with the flags of Ukraine and Israel, Ukrainian Valentyna Veretska (Kiliarska) finished first in this year’s Jerusalem Winner Marathon. A champion marathon runner, Valentyna had a special motivation to win this race and that was to show everyone the fighting spirit of Ukrainians. According to CBN News, Valentyna, who recently fled Ukraine with her daughter while her husband stayed behind to fight for their country in the wake of Russia’s invasion, shared that she ran “for peace.”
Valentyna was in the company of about 40 other immigrants newly arrived from Ukraine who ran for their country. Masha Radko, was another Ukrainian who finished second in the women’s half-marathon. Running in solidarity with Ukraine, participants of the marathon helped spread awareness of the horrors unfolding in Ukraine as their fight for freedom rages on.
CBN News reports that Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion welcomed Valentyna and the Ukrainian runners at a press conference ahead of the marathon. Lion shared that sports “unite people,” and “can help with peace.” Referencing the city of Jerusalem, “the City of Peace,” Lion noted the numerous holy sites with three thousand years of history that added to the runners’ experience, along with the challenging terrain of hills.
Describing how meaningful it was to run in Jerusalem, Valentyna explained that she feels a “power” there that pushes her. While she is only in Israel for a short period of time, Valentyna shared that she wants to go to the Western Wall to say a prayer for peace in Ukraine. Valentyna’s pride in Ukraine and appreciation for Israel sends an inspirational and important message around the world. She showed everyone the power of a fighting spirit and encourages others to have hope and faith no matter how difficult the circumstances.