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Boston Marathon bombing – the story behind an iconic photo
Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash., was running his third Boston Marathon and near the finish line when he was knocked down by one of two bomb blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)
Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki was covering the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon at the finish line when the world around him exploded.
In the moments after a terror attack ripped through the crowd and injured more than 100 people, Tlumacki began immediately telling the story through images. One of the first he made was of 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, a Washington State native nearing the end of the race as the first bomb exploded.
Iffrig, lying on the street as first responders rushed to his side, quickly found himself as one of the iconic images of the chaos in the moments after the Boston Marathon attack. Both Iffrig and Tlumacki, in separate accounts as a runner and a journalist, gave their stories about the moment and the day’s events.
Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Visible in the background is a fireball as the second bomb blast erupts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)
The Associated Press and his hometown Herald tracked down Iffrig to get his story:
He said he ended up with a scrape on his knee, and that a race official helped him to his feet.
Iffrig said most of the other runners near the area weren’t as close to the explosion as he was. He walked across the finish line and another half-mile to his hotel. Iffrig said of his proximity to the explosion that it was a “close one” and the experience “scared” him.
The runner’s son, Mark Iffrig, of Seattle, told The Associated Press he was tracking his father’s race progress online and didn’t realize what had happened until he went on Facebook to post about his dad finishing the race. He quickly turned on the TV and called his dad.
“It’s horrible. He said it was quite a concussive blast. He was a little dazed. Someone helped him up,” said Mark Iffrig , adding he recognized his father from a widely distributed Boston Globe photo showing him on the ground, surrounded by police officers and race officials. “He was only about 10 feet from the finish line.”
Iffrig said his father is an avid runner who has raced in a number of marathons.
“He’s a hell of a runner,” he said. “He’s run a lot and he’s fast.”
For his part, Tlumacki talked with Time Magazine for its Lightbox photo collection about the images he made and what his thoughts were in covering a horrific scene:
Q. Tell us about the photo of the runner on the ground with the police.
A. 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.
… 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.
A different perspective on Tlumacki’s photo was put together by Josh Kalven, a journalist and photographer, on his Tumblr:
Kalven explains the juxtaposed images:
In the seconds after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing this morning, Globe photographer John Tlumacki snapped this harrowing and widely-circulated image of 78-year-old runner Bill Iffrig on the ground, three policeman springing into action around him.
But check out the AP image above, taken from the bridge above the finish line just seconds before the Globe photo. If you look carefully, you can actually see Tlumaki in a yellow vest, camera poised, about to take the now-famous photo.