When the photos and videos of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings were broadcast around the world, one image in particular stood out. It showed the moments of the first explosion and one runner crumpling to the ground near the finish line. That man was 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash. The video made it look like he’d been hurt badly, but what it didn’t show was Iffrig getting back up and finishing the race.
Iffrig has been featured in the media across the U.S., including an interview by Piers Morgan on CNN. A photograph of him lying on the road while police officers around him jump into action was the cover of Sports Illustrated.
The Free Press caught up with Iffrig at his home where he has lived for 49 years with his wife Donna.
Q: What can you tell me about what happened in Boston?
A: "I came out of that pretty well unscathed because I went down right away and while I was falling to the ground after that explosion I thought 'this is probably going to be the end of me.' I really thought I was going to die. It was a mystery -- I didn't know what was going on. Even later on, it took a long time (to understand what happened) but when I got on the road and hit the road and laid there a few minutes, well, I wasn't hurt too bad. I started looking around, I was able to move everything, and I didn't see any blood, so hey, I gotta get up and finish this thing. So I got up with the help of one of the fellows there (and) I was able to make it to the finish line (in 4:03:07). And later, since I looked at some of the pictures that were taken of me as I was heading towards the finish line, I looked pretty bad. But once I got over there, then I stopped and I was talking to (someone) and he said 'well, I'll get a wheelchair for ya,' and by the time he got back I said 'hey, I'm really all right. There's a lot of people here that are going to need that more than I do, so I'd rather just walk up to the hotel.' "
Q: Anybody could be forgiven for not finishing after something like that. Why did you want to finish?
A: "You know, after you run for four hours with that goal in mind, I'm not going to pass that up. And like I said, I looked at myself and I wasn't hurt too bad so, hey, let's go to the finish line."
Q: You've gotten a lot of media attention since then. What have you made out of all this?
A: "It's been kind of nice for me. I mean, I didn't get hurt, and I feel badly for the people that did. But my experience through the whole thing wasn't that bad. I had just so many people go to me and they knew who I was, they knew my name just from watching television. And then my friends started calling and all these news agencies were calling, so it was a couple of busy days back there. Finally we got to the point where, hey, we got to get out of this room and away from this phone, because it was going crazy."
Q: What do you fill your days with now?
A: "I just got done mowing the lawn. I still do my yard work, and my wife and I go walking two or three days a week."
Q: Do you still think about what happened in Boston?
A: "Oh yeah. I thought a lot about it the first week or so. I found (I was) getting very emotional, the first night or so. But all the attention that everybody's been giving is great."