Boston Marathon

What Ukrainians said about running the Boston Marathon

"My race was not easy because I don't have the opportunity to prepare my body because, on the 24th of February, Vladimir Putin made the decision to destroy my country."

Igor Krytsak of Ukraine crosses the finish line of the 126th Boston Marathon. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Igor Krytsak crossed the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday with Ukraine’s flag above his head and a message scrawled across its blue and yellow rectangles: “I am Ukrainian and I’m proud of it.”

Many of the historic race’s international runners come to Boston with their own national pride. But not many are in the same position as Krytsak, whose home country now has the eyes of the world upon it.

Krytsak, 33, arrived from Kyiv two days before the race under special permission from his government, which is now close to entering a third month of a war waged by Russia, according to the Associated Press.


No marathon is an easy feat. But Krytsak’s run was undeniably more difficult than some of his fellow runners.

“My race was not easy because I don’t have the opportunity to prepare my body because, on the 24th of February, Vladimir Putin made the decision to destroy my country,” Krytsak told WCVB after the race.

Soon after finishing the 26.2-mile course in 3:22:41, Krytsak was en route to New York, where he was slated to catch a flight on Tuesday to Warsaw, Poland, to meet family and drive back to Ukraine.

Krytsak, as he explained to the AP, launched a charity with his colleagues back home to help with the country’s now significant humanitarian issues and to provide its army with needed supplies.

He initially gave up running to do that, but he eventually realized he had to return to the sport as “a kind of meditation.”

“During the next run, I thought about what I was doing to support my people and army, I was constantly squirming and thinking that I could do more,” he told the news service. “It was then that I came up with the idea to make every effort and get permission to travel abroad to transport humanitarian aid (I am bringing back to Ukraine a lot of help from Ukrainian and American friends) and participate in the Boston Marathon to inform society about events in Ukraine.”


Krytsak made a plea to the AP that other nations support Ukraine as much as possible, as the war against Russia is “a war for freedom and democracy around the world.”

He told the publication his finishing time was, therefore, not at the top of his mind on Monday:

“I didn’t think about the marathon, and even more so I didn’t think about the result. I wanted to draw a parallel between the events that took place in Boston in 2013 and the events that are taking place here in Ukraine.

“During the marathon, I thought about those people who are now surrounded, about those who are hiding and fleeing shelling, about those who are now defending our state and about those who will never wake up and start a new day. Participating in a marathon is a great holiday. This is my fifth major from the Marathon Major series. However, today in the distance, I cried several times when I watched happy and carefree families who, together with their relatives, are safe, have fun and actively spend their time here. I, like millions of Ukrainians, DREAM that the war will end as soon as possible, and all those involved in those atrocities and crimes must be punished.”

Dmytro Molchanov, a 33-year-old Ukrainian runner who lives in Brooklyn, also told the AP he thought of friends and family in his native country throughout the marathon.

“When it was really tough, I tried not to give up and tried pushing, kind of fight with myself the way Ukrainians are fighting against Russia right now,” he said after finishing the course. “It’s really tough, basically, being here while all my family, my friends and Ukrainians are fighting over there for peace in my country, in Europe and the world overall.”

According to the AP, more than 40 Ukrainians had registered for the 2022 marathon, but the war prevented many from making it to Boston. Ukraine has prohibited most men from leaving the country, as the nation may need them for military service.

Yaroslav Korolyk, a 31-year-old engineer who qualified for the race, was one of those who was unable to leave Ukraine.


Korolyk also missed last year’s marathon because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He expressed his frustration to the AP, but said his emotions were overshadowed by the war waging at home.

It ‘s “hard to think about running when another country is bombing your cities and a lot of civilians are dying,” he told the outlet.


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