The picture, taken by Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki, features a silver-haired marathon runner knocked off his feet by the sheer force of the explosion to his left. Few images have so powerfully summed up the chaos (and the feeling of helplessness) that followed the Boston Marathon explosions.
The good news? The mystery runner in this picture, who has now been identified as 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, is in good health, having suffered no more than a scrape to the knee. With the help of a race official, he even crossed the finish line.
Speaking to The Associated Press about the explosion that knocked him from his feet, the Washington state man said:
“It was only 5 feet away from me. It was really loud.”
He added that he was closer than almost any other runner to the explosion, and that the experience “scared” him. After walking across the finish line, the elderly runner walked the half-mile back to his hotel.
Bill’s son, Mark Iffrig, told The Associated Press he immediately recognized his father in Tlumacki’s picture, which he says he first saw on TV. He said:
“It’s horrible. He said it was quite a concussive blast. He was a little dazed. Someone helped him up. He was only about 10 feet from the finish line.”
Hearteningly, Bill made it across the line, something that didn’t surprise his son:
“He’s a hell of a runner. He’s run a lot and he’s fast.”
Bill’s fall was also caught in footage of the explosion. We’ve embedded this video below, but be warned that some viewers may find this clip disturbing:
Since the Bill Iffrig photo went viral on Twitter, plenty of users are declaring Bill a hero for defiantly finishing the race he started:
Still can’t believe my interview with Bill Iffrig – 78yrs old, blown to the ground by the bombs, got back up and finished the race. #hero
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 16, 2013
Bill Iffrig deserves some kind of belt or trophy or lordship or something. deadsp.in/XOaxjL
— Ryan O’Hanlon (@rwohan) April 16, 2013
Sometimes the simple act of getting up can send a bloody powerful message to those bastards. Bill, we salute you… bit.ly/ZmSIXj
— MMM’s Hot Breakfast (@mmmhotbreakfast) April 16, 2013