Dutchman to run from Amsterdam to Kyiv to buy ambulances

Photo: Beau Tilli

Amsterdam runner Boas Kragtwijk set off to run from Amsterdam to Ukraine on Saturday, hoping to complete the 2,500 kilometre journey in 50 days. The aim is to raise money for a medical aid charity for Ukraine, set up by Ukrainian and Belarussian expats living in the Netherlands,

“I want to show people in the Netherlands how close this war is to our country,” Kragtwijk, 28, told Dutch News ahead of his departure. “I really wanted to do something for Ukraine, but I am not in politics or a doctor. So I am using my passion for ultra-running to raise money for a humanitarian cause.”

The run is raising donations for Zeilen Van Vrijheid: a Dutch-based foundation that delivers renovated ambulances to where they are most needed in Ukraine.

“I wish Boas all the strength,” Zeilen’s chairwoman Veronika Mutsei said. “And I am extremely grateful for what he is doing for Ukraine. His journey will be incredible and complicated. We have our fingers crossed for him.”

Kragtwijk’ journey will span the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and Ukraine and a signature yellow ambulance will accompany him on the Ukrainian stretch of his journey.

Local volunteers are organising events in some of the towns and cities he will pass through. Other runners are also welcome to run with him, even if only for short distances.

Running over a full marathon distance daily will push his limits of endurance, he says, even though he has been training for the event for six months.

“I know it is going to be difficult but I am completely ready. Every day, I will only focus on the day ahead,” he said. His trainer is joining Kragtwijk on the road to monitor his progress and safety.

Boas hopes to raise €100,000 EUR for Ukraine via his crowdfunding campaign. By departure time on Saturday he had collected €16,700, which is over half the price of one refurbished ambulance.

According to Zeilen’s calculations, one ambulance saves 20-25 lives per day. Since its creation in March 2022, the foundation has supplied Ukraine with 160 ambulances plus a medical bus, three fire trucks, and over 500 tons of humanitarian aid.

“It has been one and a half years into the war but for Zeilen, nothing has changed,” Mutsei said. “We still need to send ambulances because they get destroyed daily – and Ukraine still needs medical equipment, supplies, and medicine.”

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