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A Story of “Good Yarma”

During our recent trip to TNNA, I got to spend some quality time with our new Southern California sales rep, Mona Gutierrez. Mona is pretty much one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. She travels through her territory in a tricked out yarn van spreading her motto of “Good Yarma.” She also runs marathons – while knitting, of course!

It was no surprise when Mona told me that she was one of the many wonderful knitters who participated in the Marathon Scarf Project. She knit three scarves and attached a short note with her contact information to each.

Mona received the following email from one of the scarf recipients, Craig Oberg:

Imagine our surprise to find that special scarves had been lovingly knit for the marathon runners when we walked past the church near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was a delightful experience to talk with and hug the scarf givers. It was particularly poignant for us, myself, my wife and my sister, since we had been so intimately involved with such a different feeling at the same location last year.

After running my first marathon at age 50 on a dare to accompany my daughter-in-law on her first marathon, the Boston marathon seemed unattainable. Yet, with encouragement and some luck, I went the next year, and then decided to try and finish it five times, one medal for each of our children. Last year, I ran it a sixth time – a medal for me. Since it was the last time, I carried a video camera and made a movie of the experience, primitive but fun. Running slower than usual, I hugged my wife, sister, and mom (the fan club) as I ran down Boylston to the finish line. Eight minutes later and three blocks past the finish, the bombs went off. I tried to go back to find my family but authorities were evacuating the runners away from the area, rightly so.  Knowing where they had been and that they were headed to the family meeting area, I strongly suspected they had been near one of the blasts.  I decided to wait for 30 minutes at our meeting area, and then I would head out to look for them at the hospitals. They came at 29 minutes, a happy and very relieved reunion. Later, I found out they had been standing near the second bomb when I ran past and had walked past the first bomb just minutes before it went off. They were standing in front of the hospital tent and witnessed all the carnage as emergency personnel and volunteers wheeled the critically injured past them into the tent. We did not anticipate returning to the marathon again.

Last fall, my wife asked if I would run it again because she wanted to stand at the finish line again, to cheer me on and shed the images of tragedy. It was a magnificent experience this year. There were huge patriotic crowds cheering on the runners but also cheering on the American spirit – the same “no quitting” spirit shown by the runners.  Your gift and remembrance of that same spirit – of giving, sacrifice and providing solace to unknown fellow runners – made our return that much more special.

I gave my finisher medal from last year to my sister and the finisher medal from this year to my wife, as they both faced the anxious memories of tragedy and triumphed. The medal symbolizes the finish, no matter the journey. If I had another medal, I would send it to you.  Please accept this picture of us, I ran the race partly for you and for all those who finish the hardest race, life itself, exhibiting grace and kindness to their fellow racers.

Craig, with his wife and sister, after finishing this year’s marathon

One last note, during the last six miles of the marathon last year, I thought about walking and doing some filming, but the little voice said to just keep running, even with a slow time, finish it out strong. I kept running and did not stop. I often think what would have happened to my family if I had not kept running. Keep running….



2 thoughts on “A Story of “Good Yarma”

  1. Thank you to you, Mona, and Craig for sharing this amazing, inspiring story. As a Bostonian and a resident of Watertown during those fateful days, it has been incredible to experience so many outpourings of support from around the country and the world following such tragedy. As a knitter, I was particularly inspired by the Marathon Scarf Project and love knowing that all the stitchers that contributed may have been able to touch someone as deeply as Mona did Craig (and his family). Cheers to you all!

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