CHICAGO (AP) — For one runner, in particular, making it through Sunday’s Chicago Marathon will be an especially hard-fought achievement.
Boston resident Lee Ann Yanni was injured in April’s bombings at that city’s marathon. The first of two blasts at the finish line tore through the 32-year-old’s left leg, forcing her to undergo multiple surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation. It also threatened plans she already had to run in Chicago to raise money to fight cancer, which claimed the life of her father last year.
She told the Chicago Sun-Times that her road to recovery and to Chicago’s race was “probably the hardest thing” she’s ever done, but she wants people to know she’s a survivor.
“I’m a stubborn person. I’m not going to let anyone take this dream away from me,” she said.
Yanni is a physical therapist who was attending the Boston Marathon to support several of her patients who were running. She was about 15 feet from the first bomb that went off.
“My leg was pretty much filleted open,” she said. “They removed a half-dollar-sized piece of shrapnel and wood from my leg, as well as piece of my fibula.”
Her husband, Nick, applied a tourniquet to her leg and suffered hearing damage himself.
She spent a week in the hospital and a month on crutches.
Yanni said she only started a walk-run program about five weeks ago to prepare for the marathon in Chicago. Her goal is to finish in less than six hours.
On Sunday, she’ll be wearing the blue and yellow colors of the Boston Athletic Association. Her husband and several friends will be in the crowd or running alongside her for support.
Yanni said she is expecting it to be an emotional challenge as well as a physical one, as the experience will undoubtedly stir memories of Boston.
“I’m sure nerves will flare up, being in a big crowd,” she told the newspaper. “It’s almost simulating what we were experiencing.”