Distance running tends to attract tenacious people, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Ukraine.
As Runner’s World reports, this year’s Kiev Marathon, scheduled for April 27, will go on as planned, even as tensions in the Ukrainian capital and throughout the former Soviet republic continue to make international headlines, stoking fears of out-and-out war.
Kiev has been a hotbed of protests for weeks, and following the ouster of Kremlin-backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, Russian forces have swept into the country.
On Thursday, lawmakers in the Crimea region voted to break away from the Ukraine and rejoin with Russia, setting up a regional referendum and deepening the divide between pro-European Ukrainians in the west and Russian loyalists in the east.
"Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine," said U.S. President Barack Obama, dismissing the idea of a Crimean pullout. “In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”
And yet despite it all, the race will go on, albeit with a few minor adjustments. That’s according to Victoria Gavrylenko, managing director of Kiev Marathon official travel partner New Land Group, who said in a statement that the marathon will no longer start and finish in Independence Square, where protestors continue to hold court.
Instead, the race will begin and end in downtown Kiev, and according to the official website, 271 participants have registered for this, the marathon’s fourth running.
The course records, Runner’s World reports, are 2:19:17 for men and 2:44:41 for women.
“It is true, unfortunately, that we are going through some turmoil; however, let me assure you that Kiev is now in a calm and peaceful mood, and we are trying to deliver this message to as many people as possible,” Gavrylenko said.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg