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Stories From The Boston Marathon Finish Line

62-year-old Jeff Poppe (in red) at the 26-mile mark.
Photos courtesy Jeff and Anita Poppe

The force of the first blast at the Boston Marathon threw runner Bill Iffrig of Lake Stevens, Wash. to the ground. The photograph of Iffrig has become an iconic image of Monday’s tragedy.

Iffrig, a 78-year-old retired mason and carpenter, is well known runner around the region. He has run 45 marathons, including his third in Boston. Iffrig recounted his experience with Weekday’s Steve Scher.

Bill Iffrig, Lake Stevens

I had headed towards the finish line and I only had maybe 20 feet to go and I was concentrating on getting this done. I been out here for nearly four hours. And all of a sudden a bomb went off next to me and I was like, oh my God, it was so loud. It took my hearing away it was so loud. I had no idea what it was. At the same time it [was] kind of like the shock waves hit my body and just caused my legs to just buckle up underneath and I felt myself going down to the road and crashed on the road there and laid there a few minutes and started getting my senses back again. In the meantime I’m wondering, hey, maybe this is the end.

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Jeff Poppe, Bellevue

The officials descended immediately, and they said keep running, They wanted everybody to get out of the area, So I ran further east. The whole time I’m running from the finish line, I just thought what if I lost my wife because she was supporting me?

Anita Poppe, Bellevue

The explosion, the center of it, was about 15 feet behind me. It was the loudest noise I’d ever heard. Just a deafening explosion. And everybody screaming behind me in the billowing smoke. But we didn’t turn around and look for too long because everybody wanted to get away. All I could think was this is a terrorist attack, and we’re all going to die.

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Then, maybe five or seven seconds after the first blast, the second bomb went off, and that was even closer to us. As we were running, it felt like the bombs were following us. People said run faster, run faster. There was kind of a stampede like attitude, So we all grabbed on to each other, arms and shoulders and clothing, just kind of holding each other and running.

Jennifer Kapinos, Seattle

I saw smoke. So as soon as I heard the blast I turned around and saw two plumes. I saw the first plume of smoke and then a second boom went off and I saw a second plume of smoke right at the finish line area. This is my first time to Boston and I know it’s Patriots Day so I thought maybe it was a re-enactment. Then chaos started to ensue and then I got worried. I couldn’t get in touch with my husband and my friend over text at first, so I started to panic a little bit. I was with mostly runners from the Portland area and everybody in my group was fine. I’d have to re-qualify to come back, but I’d certainly do this race again. Up until this event happened, all along the race course, it was the most supportive and fun supporters I’ve ever experienced, and this was my sixth marathon.

Sean Sundwall, Snoqualmie

I was about an hour and a half ahead of the explosion. My sister was about 45 minutes ahead of the explosion. So we were all safe and we didn’t know anything had happened until we were walking back to lunch and saw the police just everywhere. Several of my training friends were running as well as some friends of my sister. There’s probably six or seven of those that I know that are all accounted for and safe. They’ve asked us to stay inside. Somehow I’m going to try to get to the airport this evening.

KUOW’s Lisa Brooks, John Ryan, Carolyn Adolph, Phyllis Fletcher, Carol Smith, Steve Scher and Jason Pagano contributed to this report.