The athletes swimming, biking and running in Boulder's inaugural Ironman had lots of support from cheering, cowbell ringing, sign-waving fans as they made their way through the city.
Fans yelled encouragement along the Boulder Creek Path, watched the athletes change their bikes for running gear at Boulder High's field and massed at 13th and Pearl streets to cheer at the finish line. Boulder High also was home to the Ironman Village, where businesses sold gear and t-shirts.
"We're athletes too, so we wanted to see what it was all about," said Boulder's Phoebe Erdman as she cheered the competitors running along Boulder Creek. "It's really exciting. It's awesome that it's in downtown Boulder."
Today's Ironman took 3,000 athletes all over Boulder County in a 140.6-mile course. The course included a 2.4-mile swim at Boulder Reservoir, 112-mile bike ride through Boulder, Larimer, Weld and Broomfield counties and 26.2-mile run in Boulder. The race ends at midnight.
"This is an incredible feat of human strength," said Clare Browne, who came to Boulder with a group of friends from Colorado Springs. "It's really inspiring to see people who are willing to put themselves through this."
Browne and her friends held up signs with slogans that included "Fancy a piggy back," "Run now, beer later" and "I only date Ironmen."
Joining the locals who came to experience an Ironman were the support teams of the participants. About 70 percent of those competing in the Ironman were from out-of-state.
Julie Talbott, who lives in Utah, brought her 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter to support her husband, Shawn, in his 18th Ironman.
"We're so excited for him," she said.
Gloria Fletcher, a member of "Team Randall," came from Washington to cheer for her daughter's boyfriend, Randall Cole.
"This is just too much fun," she said. "It's just party mode."
As the afternoon wore on, more fans began gathering at the finish line, with the men's winner, Boulder's Justin Daerr, coming through a little after 2:30 p.m.
Rhiannon Shettler was one of many family members and friends waiting at the finish line for Danielle Kehoe, a Holy Family graduate who was the female winner.
"She's really good," said Shettler, who lives in Superior and has a cousin who's Kehoe's fiance. "We're here to support her. It's a lot of fun."
Shettler and the other fans went crazy as an ecstatic Kehoe crossed the finish line with "Dynamite" playing in the background. She quickly doubled back to exchange high fives with the spectators lining the course — prompting the announcer to quip "I think she's going to go an extra mile."
Boulder's Tracy Young said she came to watch athletes as they made it over the finish line because "it's amazing."
"It's great to see their accomplishments," she said. "With this in your hometown, you've got to watch it."
Another in the finish line crowd, Boulder's Tom Maloney, predicted that all the fans who showed up for the race will help bring it back to Boulder for a second year.
"It's so cool," he said.
For others, the Ironman was more headache than inspirational party thanks to multiple Boulder street closures and some traffic jams. There were an additional 58 Boulder police officers in the city on Sunday to direct traffic and help with crowd control.
Traffic was bad both in downtown Boulder, where spectators flooded in to watch the race, and in other areas along the course as traffic was stopped to accommodate the bike ride.
Rick Dyson said he was stuck on Iris with "hundreds" of other cars for more than half an hour during the race, which he termed "an exercise in absurdity."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Amy Bounds at 303-473-1341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.