It should go without saying that completing an Ironman event is no small task.
Professional triathletes such as Belgium's Marino Vanhoenacker, who won last week's Ironman Canada in Whistler, B.C., in 8 hours, 16 minutes, 10 seconds, are putting in a full day at the office when they race.
And for those participants who aren't regularly tackling a 140.6-mile course, it can take much, much longer to complete a full Ironman.
Based on data compiled from 41,000 finishers in 25 Ironman races by runtri.com, the average finisher clocks in at just more than 12 hours and 30 minutes upon crossing the finish line. However, participants are given a maximum of 17 hours to complete the course, and with some starting as late as 7 a.m. that means it will be close to midnight before the final finishers are done.
Melinda Downey is the Vice President of Operations for Boulder County Communications, a company that has been handling audio, video and I.T. work for Ironman races in North America for more than a decade. She also has a hand in setting up the finisher party Sunday that runs from 10 p.m. to midnight at the finish line at Pearl and 13th Streets.
A fixture at all Ironman events, the finisher party gives athletes who completed the race earlier in the day, spectators and the general public an opportunity to come out and listen to music while they watch and cheer on those participants who have been on the course the longest. And while typically 20 percent of finishers cross the line during this time, that number can be closer to 30 percent in locations such as Lake Tahoe, California, and potentially Boulder.
"That time of night really becomes a celebration," Downey said. "They are the people that have been out there pushing it the longest so we really want to celebrate their efforts.
"You see people crying as they cross the finish line and you just feel the raw emotion. We get a really big mix of people, and I think since we are in downtown Boulder, the streets will have people lining not just the finish line but out along the course towards the finish."
Though he doesn't anticipate being one of the last participants to finish the race, Boulder's Jay Kalinski has done a number of triathlons in the past and also previously competed in Ironman Sweden in 2012, so he is familiar with the events at the end of the night.
A Co-Owner of RE/MAX Boulder, Kalinski has an office near the finish line. With a number of his agents competing in the race as well, he hopes to be able to collect his gear early enough to come back and throw a party of sorts in the same area in order to cheer on those co-workers and the rest of the field finishing at that time.
"That's really some of the most inspirational stories and people that evolve around that, because those are the people who are really pushing themselves to be able to call themselves an Ironman," Kalinski said. "You get an electric atmosphere and it can be really moving and touching to see the effort people put forth for that."