Chicago News

Chicago Marathon an inspiration for Boston Marathon bombing victims

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some of the world's elite runners are in Chicago for Sunday's marathon, but there are also many other runners whose stories are an inspiration to many.

Sunday will mark the first time Nicholas and Lee Ann Yanni have been at a marathon since April when they were in Boston to cheer on friends at the Boston Marathon. They were standing very near to where the first bomb exploded, causing Nicholas to lose hearing in his left ear. But his wife was in worse shape.

"I looked back up and I just saw chaos, things you could really care less to see. Then of course, I look over and I see my wife standing there and her bone sticking out of her leg," Nicholas Yanni said.

She's had months of surgeries and physical therapy, and the scars are still vivid reminders of what she's gone through.

She also had severed nerves, a broken fibula and shattered ankle. But Lee Ann Yanni says a few months before Boston she had committed to run the Chicago Marathon in honor of her father who died of cancer last October.

Despite her injuries, she remained committed to the training and she is here this weekend ready to run. Or at least finish. It was a thought she had just hours after the Boston bombing.

"This is something I want to do in honor of my father since the beginning of the year. These guys aren't going to take this away from me," she said.

Though she has run several half marathons, this will be Lee Ann Yanni's first full 26.2 mile race. She plans to run with her close friend Stephanie Rice, who she says she's counting on to help pull her through.

"It's been really inspirational to see her. She's courageous, determined woman. I don't know if I could have done it if I was in her shoes," Rice said.

While the injuries limited her training and she's had to adjust her goals, Lee Ann Yanni says it should be an emotional day and she's determined to finish.

"If I have to jump on someone's back, if I need to skip, if I need to crawl," she said.

Yanni is running with the Live Strong Foundation, one of dozens of charities the runners will raise millions of dollars for on Sunday.

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