260 Thank You’s

It has always been a dream of mine to run the Boston Marathon, but as a five-hour runner, I knew I would never make the BAA’s qualifying standards. So I decided in 2013 to raise funds for Boston Children’s Hospital and thus gained entry into the 117th Boston Marathon. I was at mile 22 when the bombs went off, and I was stopped short of finishing at mile 25.5. I was deeply upset about the tragic events that day.

I received an invitation in May 2013 to come back and finish the race in 2014. I thought a lot about the fans and spectators and how they were the ones badly hurt, injured and killed. I also thought about making my return to Boston about something different as it was not going to be an ordinary race for me. I wanted to be grateful and honor all those 260+ who were wounded. Over the course of five months I thought about creating a personal thank you note to the Boston Marathon Spectators. I decide to create one note for each of those injured 260. To make it real, I put my bib number on the note; and to make it personal I signed all 260 of them. I added a picture of my 2013 medal as a watermark.

260 Thank You notes

I brought these 260 “Thank You’s” to the start line on April 21, 2014. I didn’t know how I would end up carrying these notes, but they were bundled in a ziploc and I decided that if I had to I would carry them all 26 miles. My initial thought was to distribute ten per mile over 26 miles, but it was hard to count and do it evenly. So I handed them out randomly over 26 miles.

I was not going to be concerned about my marathon time. I started my watch but never looked at it (a first for me). This was my 27th marathon and about a “PW” (Personal Worst) time, but overall it was my Personal Best Experience! One of the recipients sent my note to Channel 5 in Boston and a reporter tracked me down while I was still in town. I will let the interview tell the rest of the story. If anything, I wanted the notes to be shared so we runners made sure we let spectators and fans know just how much we appreciate their support.

WCVB – BOSTON —An appreciative runner in Monday’s Boston Marathon took a novel approach to thanking the thousands of people who cheered her on for 26.2 miles.

“You could feel the energy the whole 26 miles,” said runner Chrissy Yamada.

Yamada came to Boston from Seattle to run. She had some unfinished business after being stopped last year at mile 25. She knew she was coming back.

“In the summer, I started to think about what am I going to do to be thankful and grateful. That’s all I can think of. Everyone’s hurt. How do I help them heal somehow, some way?” Yamada said.

A spectator who was watching the race was surprised when she received a note from Yamada as she ran this year’s race thanking the crowds for their support.

She passed out 260 signed notes to honor of those wounded last year. Monday was Yamada’s 27th marathon. It wasn’t her best time, but it was time well spent.
“I would just run up and stop and say, ‘Hey, I’m thanking you!’ And hand out my notes. I got lots of nice reactions, lots of hugs, and people saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you guys for running.’ And I said, ‘No, thank you. This is about you today,'” she said.

Yamada with medal 2My personal Thank You note:

April 21, 2014

Dear Boston Marathon Spectator,
Thank you so much for cheering on us runners. Last year l ran my first Boston Marathon and was not able to finish. The events of 2013 made me realize how important spectator support is for us runners. So today, I plan on thanking 260 spectators, one for each of the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon. When you have choices of how you spend your time, it means a lot to us that you are out here cheering us on and without your support, racing does not mean anything. THANK YOU again for being out here to cheer us on!

Runner #32486

<signed>Chrissy Yamada

My story received media coverage from Boston’s ABC affiliate WCVB and CNN’s “Good Stuff” feature.

Christine Yamada
Shoreline, Washington
April 21, 2014
Age – 53
Bib # 32486