Danielle Kehoe shows her excitement as she nears the finish line to win the women’s division of the Boulder Ironman on Sunday, Aug. 3, in Boulder.
Danielle Kehoe shows her excitement as she nears the finish line to win the women's division of the Boulder Ironman on Sunday, Aug. 3, in Boulder. For more photos of the race go to www.dailycamera.com Jeremy Papasso/ Camera (Jeremy Papasso)

It's been just seven years since Justin Daerr decided to make Boulder his home.

In that time, he's grown quite attached to the area. On Sunday, he believes that attachment helped him to the best win of his career.

Daerr won the inaugural Ironman Boulder, finishing the 140.6-mile course in 8 hours, 20 minutes, 26 seconds.

"It meant the world to me," Daerr said of picking up his first Ironman win in his hometown. "There's so many people here that I've gotten to know over the years. This is the first time they all came out together to watch. Hearing your name all day long on the run course, that's a huge advantage. Every time you hear a word of encouragement, it refocuses you back to getting the job done."

The 33-year-old Daerr has competed in nearly 30 Ironmans, with several top five finishes to his credit. That experience may have helped him against Richie Cunningham, a 70.3 specialist who was competing in just his second Ironman. Cunningham finished second, in 8:30:38.

"Yeah, it is what I specialize in, so I think I just have a rolodex of experiences, in terms of what to look for and what to feel and what to expect," Daerr said. "That may have played out in my favor."

Cunningham led most of the way, holding a steady lead until the marathon. Daerr passed Cunningham around the 17th mile of the run.


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"Towards the end of the bike, I suffered a little bit and didn't manage to get the gap that I wanted," said Cunningham, an Australian who has lived in Boulder for nearly four years. "I ran hard the first lap to try and keep the distance away, but I knew he was coming and I wasn't putting any time into him."

Considering it was just his second Ironman, and first in seven years, Cunningham said, "You always want to win, but I'm happy with second."

For Daerr, it was an emotional finish that included his teary-eyed wife, Brooke, putting the medal around his neck at the end.

"The thing about my wife and my family, they've always believed in me when I've had a hard time believing in myself," Daerr said. "It's not just me racing out there, it's all of them, especially her."

Holy Family graduate Danielle Kehoe was the first female to cross the finish line. Kehoe's time was 9:19:54 unofficially. Boulder resident Laura Bennett, a former Olympian, finished second.