Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This is why you run and finish the race: Bill Iffrig and the lesson of the Boston Marathon Bombings

This appears in the Saturday, April 19, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

This is why you run and finish the race
by rick olivares 
photo courtesy of sports on earth

Some time ago, I got in touch with the producers of the film Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team for an article. Producer Adam Brown was one of them.

Earlier today, I received an email from Brown about a new short documentary that he worked on that was titled, The Finish Line.

The Finish Line is a 12-minute documentary about 79-year old William George “Bill” Iffrig who became one of the iconic and enduring images of the Boston Marathon bombings when he collapsed from the impact of the first explosion some 20-feet away from the finish line.

The documentary was released today in the United States (April 15) – exactly one year after the bombings (April 15, 2013) that killed three people and injured an estimated 264 other people.

Iffrig wasn’t hurt at all and incredibly, he got up and finished the race amidst all the chaos.

Said Iffrig who has completed 51 marathons, “There are some things in life that you don't have any control of. So somehow or another, you've got to make your way to get through them."

Unable to interview Iffrig who begged off from all requests, I decided to talk to Adam instead.

Rick: Why did you decide to tell this story? What drew you to Mr. Bill Iffrig? Did you take anything away from him after filming him?

Adam: Sports On Earth approached us about nine months ago to start producing short form documentary content for their website, and Bill Iffrig's story was one of the initial ideas we discussed since we're a Seattle production team. We ended up producing two other docs for them first, Mr. Irrelevant (about the last pick of the NFL Draft) and Breaking the Ice (about the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team).

We vividly remembered seeing the footage of Bill falling down and the iconic photo on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and we knew it would be timely to tell Bill's story on the one-year anniversary of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing.

We drove up to Bill's place in Lake Stevens, and he was extremely inspiring right away. Salt of the earth, no nonsense, no assumptions. Just an honest, hard working guy who takes nothing for granted. 

Rick: This film is like an intensely personal one and relevant like the Sonicsgate issue. What prompts you to tackle such moving subjects like this? Why did you choose Bill Iffrig?

Adam: We love the personal side of making documentaries. These two stories touched on a heartfelt side of sports that extends outside of the physical activity itself, and being in Washington State helped us get the access we needed to tell the story right. Bill's story is a natural fit for documentary film, and it was fulfilling to work on such a personal piece. 

The ultimate message of The Finish Line and Bill Iffrig is telling and powerful. And American President Barack Obama put it succinctly while paying tribute to Iffrig and the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings: “We may be momentarily knocked off our feet but we will pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We’ll finish the race."


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