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Boston Marathon survivor ready to run in Chicago

Lee Ann Yanni who was injured BostMarathbombing is running Chicago Marathon. Seen stretching near her home BostWednesday October 09 2013.

Lee Ann Yanni, who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing is running in the Chicago Marathon. Seen stretching near her home in Boston Wednesday, October 09, 2013. | Boston Herald Photo By Matt Stone

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Updated: November 13, 2013 6:06AM



In April, after the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, Lee Ann Yanni looked down and saw a bone sticking out of her leg.

On Sunday she will be running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

The road between has been arduous.

“It’s been probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Yanni, 32, said this week. “I’m a stubborn person. I’m not going to let anyone take this dream away from me.”

Yanni, a physical therapist, was about 15 feet away from the first bomb blast. She attended the race to support several of her patients who were running.

“My leg was pretty much filleted open,” said Yanni, who underwent three surgeries in the next few days for her extensive injuries.

“They removed a half-dollar sized piece of shrapnel and wood from my leg, as well as piece of my fibula.”

She was in a hospital for a week and on crutches for a month.

Gains in rehab were hard-fought, but Yanni never abandoned her plan to run the Chicago Marathon, which, in her mind, had been written in stone months before the bombing as a way to honor her father, who died late last year from cancer.

“I just started doing a walk-run program 5½ weeks ago, that’s the extent of my training right now. My last run was 2½ hours, I covered just over 11 miles,” Yanni said.

Her goal is to finish the race in 5½ or six hours, but Yanni would be happy to just cross the finish line before race officials reopen the roads at the 6-hour, 30-minute mark.

Her husband, who affixed a tourniquet to Yanni’s leg moments after the bombing, and who suffered hearing damage himself, will be in the crowd Sunday.

“I’m sure nerves will flare up, being in a big crowd. It’s almost simulating what we were experiencing,” said Yanni, who noted one of her best friends will be with her husband for support. Another of her best friends will be by her side during the race.

“You never know what’s going to happen wherever you are, but I am fully confident any race director from here on out will do the best they can to keep the spectators and, of course, the runners as safe as possible.”

On Sunday, Yanni will be wearing blue and yellow, the colors of the Boston Athletic Association.

“I have never been shy about this. I want people to know I am a survivor. I am proud. It could have been way worse. I am here and fulfilling my dream of running the marathon.”

Another reason Oct. 13 will be special: It’s the one year anniversary of the last day she saw her father alive. Yanni is running to raise money to help fight cancer.

Email: mdudek@suntimes.com

Twitter: @mitchdudek



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