The annual Bolder Boulder attracts premier distance runners from around the world to battle each other to the finish line inside Folsom Field.

But the bulk of the 50,000 or so who amass in Boulder are casual runners looking for a new challenge and some healthy Memorial Day fun.

Longmont-born Nick Sterkel is a prime example of the recreational-type distance runner that lopes huffing and puffing across the finish line each year.

"It's recognition, it's an awesome event and it's fun," Sterkel said. "When I started running, this was my goal that I wanted to do. It's unique, I'm guessing, from other races because you have people cheering on the sides and water running, people it costumes. It's just really fun."

Currently working in compliance for the NCAA in San Jose, Calif., at age 25, Sterkel decided to adopt running as a hobby in January. Four months later, he finished the Bolder Boulder in 1 hour, 27.66 seconds. It was the first race he's ever registered for.

Sterkel said his girlfriend, who ran at West Virginia University, and one of her professional running friends challenged him to return to the Boulder altitude and finish the Bolder Boulder. Challenge completed.

"I said that I would do it out of a stupid dare," said Sterkel, who ran a 9:44 pace. "It went really well, though. Neither one of them ran it so it ended up just being me. I started training down at sea level so I got my butt kicked today."

Like many who endeavor in distance running, Sterkel said Monday's butt kicking left him wanting to improve on his time.

"I wanted to get under an hour and I didn't really meet my goal," Sterkel said. "I guess I'm going to have to do it again next year."

Sterkel also got the opportunity on Monday to make an impression on his younger brother Brett Sterkel, who will be a senior baseball and basketball player at Longmont High School next year.

"I'm proud of him. It's hard to do," Brett Sterkel said. "I didn't want to do it because it's so hard. But he's not lazy. He has a good work ethic and I'm proud of him."

Brett Sterkel said he tracked Nick's progress as he posted it on Facebook through the Nike+Running app. Though he's hesitant to take on the challenge, Brett Sterkel said watching his brother cross the finish line made him consider running the Bolder Boulder himself in 2014.

"I kind of want to do it now but I'm going to have to train," Brett Sterkel said. "I like the atmosphere. It looks like a lot of fun."

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi