When Russia invaded Ukraine, 31-year-old Valentina Beretesca was unpacked with clothes and even other belongings. She and her 11-year-old daughter fled their hometown of Mykolaiv.
She said they couldn’t cross after waiting for 15 hours on the Polish border in the frigid, with restricted access to food.
Mr. Beretesca’s trials reflect the trials of millions of Ukrainian refugees, but with a unique addition. On Friday, she crossed another marker, won the women’s race at the Jerusalem Marathon, and finished in two hours behind just two boys. 45 minutes 54 seconds.
It would be a conservative statement to say that a feat was unlikely a few weeks ago.
Beretesca, a professional runner and physiotherapist, and her daughter live with a Polish family in response to a call for her husband’s help on Facebook. Her husband, Pablo Beretesca, her fellow professional runner, remains in Ukraine and is fighting in the war, she said. Her parents and siblings are still there.
Her house in Mykolaiv was destroyed, she said, and the war depressed her and she could not be trained.
However, she wanted to return to her favorite sport, so she was able to contact the people involved in the Jerusalem Marathon and attend the event in less than two weeks.
She was shocked by her victory, Mr. Beretesca said in an interview. Especially because it was only recently that she was able to resume training with clothing and shoes collected by her Polish host family.
This was the fourth marathon she ran. According to the World Athletics website, before the war she took first place in the Marathon in Albania on October 17, and third in the Gutenberg Marathon in Mainz, Germany in May 2019. rice field.
She said she thought about war through the race in Jerusalem, and those thoughts fueled her victory.
“Of course I’m nervous about everything that happened in Ukraine, but it helped me,” she said, thinking of her home country. It’s a very hill. “
The relatively slow win times reflected a challenging course featuring several steep uphills. The situation on Friday did not solve the problem: it was occasionally rainy, windy and chilly. Ageze Guadi won the men’s race in 2 hours 37 minutes 17 seconds.
Mr. Beretesca said her victory made her smile for the first time since the beginning of the war. “This victory is for peace, for peace, not only for my country, but for peace not only in my country, but all over the world.”
She doesn’t know what will happen next. She is worried about her husband and her family in Ukraine and wants to go home. But for now, she will return to Krakow to reunite with her daughter.
She is already paying attention to the next marathon in Mainz, Germany in May.