Ukrainian refugee who fled to Newcastle set for first Great North Run
by Great North Run
September 9, 2022
Olena Proskurina left Kyiv when fighting broke out before travelling west, then to Moldova and Albania.
Her journey to north-east England came by chance when a friend mentioned the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme.
The 33-year-old will run Sunday's half marathon for local charity Smile for Life, which helps young people, and where her sponsor volunteers.
Ms Proskurina said she wanted to get back into sport when she moved and felt motivated through running.
Runners in 2021 ran across the Tyne Bride twice but will finish in South Shields on Sunday
"Living in the Ukraine was perfect, but I had to leave," she said.
"I am so thankful to your government and to your people just to give me this feeling of hope and feeling that I am legal here.
"I feel a resident and not a refugee."
Ms Proskurina, who has lived in the city since June, said she thought the people of Newcastle shared the same humour and sarcasm that Ukrainian people enjoyed.
Last year the course was altered and took runners through parts of Newcastle city centre. The 13.1-mile (21km) challenge from Newcastle to South Shields will see 60,000 runners take part.
The finish line will return to South Tyneside after the 2021 route was altered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw competitors run across the Tyne Bridge twice and through parts of the city centre.
"I am going to have fun and I believe it will be amazing and perfect because it will be a very big event, a lot of people, a lot of adrenaline", Ms Proskurina added.
"I didn't even understand how huge this event is - now I am proud to be part of this great event, the Great North Run."