Lake Stevens runner just feet from blast in Boston

Bill Iffrig of Lake Stevens was just short of the finish line in the 26-mile Boston Marathon when he heard a horrific noise and found himself on the ground.

He didn’t know what happened. It sounded just like what it was — a bomb, he said.

“It was only … feet away from me,” he said. “It was really loud.”

Iffrig, 78, was running in his third Boston Marathon. He came out of the incident with little more than a scrape on his knee.

“Just the shock from the blast was the only damage,” he said from his hotel room.

A now widely-seen video of the race captured the blast and Iffrig, wearing bib number 19200 over an orange tank top, crumpling from the shockwaves. Video and photos showed him lying on the ground surrounded by police and race officials.

Most of the runners were on the other side of the road at the time of the blast, so Iffrig was the only one who went down, he said.

“A lot of them just kept on going,” said Iffrig, a retired mason worker.

Iffrig briefly saw a remnant of what he believes was the bomb, a casing that looked like a coffee can, he said.

“Then all this smoke was coming from someplace, and I wasn’t able to see too much.”

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.

Then the commotion really started.

“The officials came flying out there and they stopped the race and they wouldn’t let anyone through. And then the place got busier all the time after that.”

Afterward, Iffrig walked the half-mile to his hotel room.

“It was a close one though, boy. I’ll tell you, that scared me.”

Iffrig took up running in the late 1970s to stay in shape for another of his passions — mountain climbing. Although his climbing eventually tapered off, Iffrig continued to run.

In 2009, Iffrig raced at the USA Track and Field cross country national championships in San Francisco. He dominated his 10-kilometer race, winning the masters men 70-74 age division in a time of 44 minutes, 48 seconds. For his efforts, Iffrig was named one of four finalists for The Herald’s 2009 Man of the Year in Sports award.

“He’s won a number of national championships,” said Doug Beyerlein, 62, of Mill Creek, a running partner of Iffrig’s. “He’s one of the top runners in the country in his age group.”

Iffrig said he has logged every mile he’s run, practice or competitive — more than 46,000 to date.

“Not many old guys are as fast as me.”

Iffrig’s family and friends were relieved to find out he was unharmed.

“I was walking across campus (at Central Washington University) and somebody ran up to me and asked if I’d heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon,” said Iffrig’s granddaughter, Amanda Kilburn of Ellensburg. “I kind of freaked out and ran home to call my dad. He said my grandpa was OK.”

Iffrig’s neighbors Patti and Jim Larson, Mike Erickson and Tyler Tarailo said they were shocked to watch television video of Illfrig falling because of the first blast.

“This is just terrible,” Erickson said.

Tarailo, a young man who has known Iffrig most of his life, said he is relieved to know that his Lake Stevens neighbor is not seriously injured.

“Bill used to jog all the way down to Kimberly-Clark and back. He’s a great guy and always helpful,” Tarailo said. “It’s good to hear that he is OK.”

Patti Larson teared up as she watched her television.

“I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t see Bill and his wife Donna walking the neighborhood each day,” she said.

Herald reporters Aaron Swaney and Gale Fiege and sports editor Kevin Brown contributed to this story.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

“We are still trying to figure out what to do with him,” said Everett Police Department property crimes Det. Adam Gage, who transports the statue back to a room using a rolling chair on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in Everett, Washington.The Batman statue was recovered after it was stolen from an Everett comic book store last year.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Batman returns! Stolen Funko statue is in police custody

The supersized bobblehead was taken from Everett Comics in an October “smash-and-grab.”

Eric Adler, the mystery man who is on Twitter as @EdmondsScanner (E. Wong)
Revealed: The mystery man behind the @EdmondsScanner tweets

He’s a 50-year-old mail carrier who dusted off his English degree to curate 6,000 tales on Twitter.

Father who fled state with 3 sons arrested in New Mexico

Richard Burke reportedly didn’t trust masks or vaccines. He was charged with custodial interference.

Brian Baird, a former congressman who lives in Edmonds, hopes to create a National Museum and Center for Service in Washington, D.C. (contributed photo)
‘The time is right’ to honor helpers, says former congressman

Brian Baird, of Edmonds, is working to establish a National Museum and Center for Service in D.C.

Man identified in fatal Mill Creek crash

Ian Jensen, 32, died after a multi-vehicle accident Saturday on 35th Avenue SE.

Package funding U.S. 2 trestle, Monroe bypass on the move

A $17.8 billion plan dealing with highways, ferries and transit has cleared the state Senate transportation panel.

Explosion shatters Everett apartment complex windows

Police were called to the Monte Cristo apartment complex, 2929 Hoyt Ave., Tuesday night.

Looking east toward the U.S. 2 trestle as cars begin to backup on Thursday, March 1, 2018 in Everett, Wa. The aging westbound span needs replacing and local politicians are looking to federal dollars to get the replacement started. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
U.S. 2 trestle rebuild part of Senate transportation package

Time is short to get the $17.8 billion plan passed. Its link to climate change bills adds intrigue.

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman looks up at a video monitor in a hallway as he arrives for a session of Thurston County Superior Court, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. Eyman, who ran initiative campaigns across Washington for decades, will no longer be allowed to have any financial control over political committees, under a ruling from Superior Court Judge James Dixon Wednesday that blasted Eyman for using donor's contributions to line his own pocket. Eyman was also told to pay more than $2.5 million in penalties. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ouch: Judge orders Tim Eyman to pay state’s $2.9M legal tab

In February, a judge found that the serial initiative promoter repeatedly violated campaign finance laws.

Most Read