Lake Stevens runner remembers Boston Marathon bombing

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 7:30 PM

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. -- When you visit Bill Iffrig's home in Lake Stevens, you know you're at the home of a runner.

If not by the shoes hanging outside, then by the medals hanging inside from marathons gone by.

Then there’s the 40 years of running logs.  One day last year, April 15th, 2013, at the Boston Marathon, he'll never forget.

Iffrig was about to cross the finish line when the first bomb went off.

"My legs are just out of it,” said Iffrig. “I could feel myself going down.”

He remembers smoke in the air, the smell of gunpowder, and shrapnel flying.

"They came flying out onto the roadway and you hear them clattering away,” he said. “People all around screaming’. It was chaos.”

In a split second, a Sports Illustrated photographer captured Iffrig on the ground and three police officers in action that would become an iconic image of the bombing.

"I thought it was staged,” he said when he saw it. “It was so perfect.”

What happened right after the bombing tells you how tough the retired carpenter is. The 79 year old picked himself up and kept going.

"I hobbled on over. I wanted to get to the finish line of course, and once I got to the finish line, [a man] said you stay right there I'm going to get you a wheelchair.”

But Iffrig declined it, and just walked back to his hotel. Not until then did the emotions hit him.

"I'd get to thinking about it and I'd start tearing up,” said Iffrig. “Just an emotional feeling. It was a serious thing.”

The dramatic magazine cover catapulted Iffrig into worldwide fame and a media maelstrom. He remembers reporters requesting interviews and President Obama mentioning him in a speech.

"It gets a little old after a while,” he said, laughing.

But he admits it had some advantages.

"When I got on the plane one of the stewardess came over and knelt down in the aisle. My wife was sitting there. She said ‘Bill, anything you want today, you got it.’”

The bombing never slowed him down. It wasn't until later, that Iffrig realized the damage to his hearing and a muscle in his right leg.

But he still runs 4 to 5 marathons a year. Memories of Boston never scare him away.

"That's never gone through my mind,” he said about the bombing. “This is a very odd thing. It'll probably never happen again I don't think.”

As for his fame, that endures as well. Fans still send him magazines in the mail.

"They keep sending them here for me to autograph,” said Iffrig. “I bet I've autographed a hundred of them.”

Iffrig has never received any compensation for his injuries, despite a fund that was set aside for the Boston marathon victims.

Iffrig says he filed a claim for reimbursement but never received a response. He does not plan to pursue it.

 

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