She fled the Israeli army as a young woman. Now in her 90s, she is running again

— from pain

Sonia Kovalevsky was 23 when she became the first woman in her family to run away from home. At the time, she was living in Mandatory Palestine, now Israel, and was serving in the British Army as a combat medic. She had been assigned to an all-male unit, and when she refused to take part in a night-time operation to ambush an underground Arab movement, she was branded a coward. Desperate to prove her courage, she walked away from her post and started running. She ran for days, until she reached the Jordanian border and crossed over into safety.

Now in her nineties, Kovalevsky has run again — this time from the pain of old age. “The only thing I want in life is to be able to move around,” she told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “At my age, every little movement is a victory.”

Every morning, Kovalevsky begins her day with some light exercises to help her build strength and stay agile. She takes regular walks in her neighborhood, and visits a nearby lake to take in the scenery and enjoy the peace and quiet. She also swims in her pool or the nearby sea for an hour a day, which she says helps to alleviate her physical pain.

Kovalevsky is still running from something, but this time it’s not an enemy or an oppressor. It’s her own body; her own physical limitations. But despite her age, Kovalevsky still finds a way to keep going, and to stay younger in spirit than she ever thought possible. As she said to Haaretz, “I try to show that nothing is impossible. I am almost 100 years old, but I still manage to stay active. If I can do it, anyone can.”

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