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Runners group pays tribute to Ukrainian member

March 3, 2022 Jaime DeJesus, Brooklynreporter.com
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They’re running with a heavy heart.

Bay Ridge-based group Ridge Runners NYC decided to run a “Strava art” route with the Ukrainian flag on Tuesday to show their support for the beleaguered nation of Ukraine and for their fellow member Eugene Sandulenko, who grew up in Ukraine and moved here with his family in 2017.

Strava art is basically made by using the GPS on your phone or computer to create a digital picture that follows you on your route. Sandulenko has family and friends in the areas of attack and is worried about them.

“It was a run for peace,” Sandulenko said, as the group’s members wore blue and yellow to show their support. “We wanted to support the Ukrainian people. It is very hard for my relatives and friends. Comprehensive worldwide support really helps them stay strong and keep the spirit high through crying.”

Kharkiv, in the east of Ukraine, is under massive Russian attack and his relatives shelter in a residential area.

The route taken by Bay Ridge Runners to run a ‘Strava Art’ route of the Ukrainian flag Photo courtesy of Ridge Runners NYC

“They sneak to the city center to buy some food,” he said. “Few groceries were open a few hours a day. Everything is in shortage. Lines are huge. Almost nothing left. My cousin try to sleep when it’s quiet and there are no shots.”

According to the Associated Press, a Russian military strike recently hit the center of Kharkiv.

“The last two days the city was under bombing,” Sandulenko said. “The Ukrainian Army protects the city and keeps it’s positions, but in the last two days, Russians start bombing residential areas.”

He added that most of his friends with families had to leave.

Firefighters extinguish a building of Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) after a rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Kharkiv is the home town of Bay Ridge’s Eugene Sandulenko. AP Photo/Andrew Marienko

“Whoever has not left yet is in permanent shock on the last day, they cannot sleep and are looking for ways to leave.” he said. “I don’t have close friends who left the country as of today, but I know that there are lots of refugees. Some of my friends are considering sending their families (women and kids) to western countries.”

It has been a difficult time for Sandulenko’s wife, who is also Ukrainian, as well.

“But it’s nothing compared to how people in Ukraine feel,” he said. “I believe everything helps: going to meetings/protests, sharing, helping volunteers, donating.”

Peter Fu of Ridge Runners said the close-knit, supportive running group wanted to do something for their friend.

“When he told us his concerns for relatives and friends in Ukraine over the weekend, I decided to put together a Strava art run to help raise awareness and show our group support for Eugene and others that are worried about their loved ones,” he said, adding that NYPD officers also showed support. “It was wonderful to get acknowledgement and support from local residents too as we ran around Bay Ridge in colors of the Ukrainian flag.”

According to The New York Times, the United Nations said that 227 civilians had been killed and 525 injured between Feb. 24, when the invasion began, and March 1, but has noted that its numbers are likely undercounts.


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