As hundreds of people chanted ‘Stop Putin, Stop The War’ in unison outside Queen Victoria’s Statue in Piccadilly Gardens in response to the situation in Ukraine, a young man emerged from the crowds.
In a pair of black shorts and running gear, the man had just finished a grueling six-hour marathon in a bid to raise crucial funds for Ukraine Aid Manchester.
Arseniy Panin, a postgraduate law student at the University of Manchester, started the 45-mile run at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Cheetham Hill just before 10am on Saturday (March 5) before making his way through Manchester and beyond.
READ MORE: Crowds burst into song at Piccadilly Gardens protest in emotional show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine
“It was originally supposed to be a 26 mile run but I ended up going a far bit longer than I intended,” Arseniy, who is originally from Kyiv, told the MEN shortly after his triumph.
“We started off in Cheetham Hill and went way past Altrincham through Manchester’s canal system.
“We ended up somewhere in the countryside with no idea where we were before we made our way into the city centre.”
Along the way, Arseniy was joined on his run with a 64-year-old man who had heard about his attempt and wanted to do it with him.
“We had to adjust things and went a bit further than usual,” Arseniy said.
“But I was determined that we were going to finish it together, no matter what.”
Upon arriving in Piccadilly Gardens, six hours after starting the run, Arseniy and his companion were greeted by applause from crowds who had gathered early to show support for Ukraine.
The event featured speeches, songs and chanting from crowds urging more action to be done from world leaders in response to the crisis in Ukraine.
“I honestly expected people to have all gone by the time we got there,” Arseniy added.
“I really appreciate how people have turned up to not only support me but to support the situation in Ukraine. It means a lot.”
As Arseniy was greeted upon his arrival, crowds were told how Arseniy had been very tempted to fly back to Ukraine to try and fight for his home country.
But, I have decided to do his fundraising marathon in a way to raise crucial funds.
“I have family back home,” Arseniy explained.
“My mum’s side of the family lives in Warsaw and managed to get out yesterday. But it’s more complicated for my dad’s side.
“If you’re a Ukrainian man aged 16-60, you can’t get out of the city and his family don’t want to leave him behind. So it’s very concerning and there are many families in a similar position to them.
“This is for my family and everyone else’s family in Ukraine right now.
“Doing this run is important because it not only brings awareness to what’s happening but hopefully can also raise some money to help those back home who are struggling.”
You can donate to Arseniy’s fundraiser by using the following bank details: AUGB Manchester Branch, Barclays Bank, Sort Code: 20-54-58, Account Number: 50127663, including your reference. More fundraising details can be found on the AUGB website.
Read more on the Ukrainian crisis: Putin warns Western sanctions on Russia and no-fly zone would be akin to a declaration of war
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.