Local marathon survivor featured on Sports Illustrated cover

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LAKE STEVENS, Wash. - A local runner is on the cover of Sports Illustrated for being in the right place at the wrong time.

This month’s edition shows a photo of Bill Iffrig on the ground, surrounded by police officers after the first bomb went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last week.

Editors said they made the decision to use the now-iconic image just hours after the bombings.

"That's a fantastic picture, that's beautiful.  That's like, staged,” said Iffrig from his home in Lake Stevens.

The 78-year-old said he was given a copy of the magazine by a flight attendant who recognized him on the plane back to Seattle on Friday.

Writers from magazines and newspapers all over the world have been calling this week, asking Iffrig about the moment he nearly missed.

"It all went good, right up through the whole thing, until the explosion," said Iffrig.

Iffrig said he was trying to finish the marathon in less than four hours, but he was slowed down by a bottleneck of runners at the beginning of the race.

If he had stayed on pace, he would have been off the course 20 minutes before the bombs went off.

"It was high-pitched and loud. (There’s) nothing like it.  I immediately thought, 'Hey, that's a bomb,’” said Iffrig.

Medics who helped him back on his feet made sure he finished the race and walked him the final 20 feet.

He was the last runner to cross the line with a recorded time.

Iffrig said he won’t be back for the marathon next year, but he will keep running.  He’s qualified to run with the elite class at Spokane’s Bloomsday race next month.