The 78-Year-Old Man In This Photo Got Up And Finished The Race

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Tough sonofabitch Bill Iffrig was just a few feet from the finish line, and a few feet from the first bomb.

You can see him fall on the video too, the older man in an orange tank top at the center-left of this Vine:


But it's the photo above, from veteran Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki, that has emerged as one of the most striking images of the day. It's the immediate aftermath, and 78-year-old Bill Iffrig has just been knocked off his feet by the blast. (Iffrig suffered only a scraped knee.) Police officers, as confused as anyone present, shift into crisis mode. The photo is worth award consideration.

Iffrig, from Lake Stevens, Wash., is one of the country's top runners in his age group. The local Herald caught up with him just hours after the bombing:

A race official came to check on him and helped him up.

Then, accompanied by the official, Iffrig walked the last 12 feet or so across the finish line.

"I ended up second in my division," he said. "After you've run 26 miles you're not going to stop there." His timing chip marked his finish at 4 hours, 3 minutes, 47 seconds.


Iffrig would eventually walk the half-mile back to his hotel room, from where he let his family know he was fine.

Photographer John Tlumacki gave a lengthy eyewitness account to Lightbox. Here's what he had to say about his shot of Iffrig, and shooting a tragedy:

That’s probably one second after the explosion. He was blown over by the blast and fell on the ground. The cops are just reacting as cops. They didn’t know what was going on. They’re pulling their guns out, looking left and right. They were pretty close to where the explosion went off and could have been killed or injured also.

You try not to get your emotions involved, but there was this man who was kneeling over this woman. Obviously she was injured pretty badly, and he’s just comforting her. He’s whispering in her ear. From a photographer’s point of view, you’ve seen these pictures before. I made it, and then I moved on.

But then a cop came to me, grabbed me, and said: “Do me a favor. Do not exploit the situation.” And that resonated with me. I can’t think about it — I gotta keep doing what I’m doing.

Here are Iffrig's splits. He's in better shape than you.


Lake Stevens runner just feet from blast in Boston [Everett Herald]
Tragedy in Boston: One Photographer's Eyewitness Account [Time]