In a Vine video of the Boston Marathon bombing, I noticed a runner who was knocked clean off his feet by the blast. Then a photo of the runner collapsed on the ground went viral. That was 78-year-old marathoner Bill Iffrig from Seattle, Washington. He was just five feet away from the finish line and "feeling pretty good" about completing the race.
In the photo he looks dazed. But he was alive and still conscious. And he managed to finish that race.
Iffrig describes to Piers Morgan what he experienced when the first blast hit. "The shock waves just hit my whole body, and my legs just started jittering around, and I knew I was going down right there. So I ended up there on the black top." (He told ESPN his legs felt like noodles.) He says he could tell he wasn't seriously injured, but it took a moment to recover.
Bill was offered a wheelchair, but he declined it. His hotel was just a few blocks away, and he felt he could walk it. But before returning to his room, one of the race assistants who had helped him stand up walked him over to the finish line. I love that. He was so close, and they were surrounded by chaos. But someone still knew it was important to Bill to actually finish that race.
Iffrig has run 45 marathons. His son, Mark, had been tracking his father's progress online from Seattle and was totally unaware of the explosions until after he posted that his father had finished on Facebook. Imagine the terror -- and the relief, knowing his father had just confirmed he was still alive. "He's a hell of a runner," Mark says of his father. "He's run a lot, and he's fast."
The Boston Globe captured and tweeted the moment just after Iffrig fell, when police were already on the scene. And now the iconic image is going on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Do you know any marathon runners Iffrig's age?
Images via BostonGlobe/Twitter, Sports Illustrated