It was an atypically quiet Saturday afternoon at Conor O'Neills Irish pub in downtown Boulder.

"I think it's the calm before the storm," said Wendy Ingram, manager of the bar at 1922 13th St.

The front door of Conor O'Neills sits a few feet from the finish line of the Ironman Boulder, a 140.6-mile triathlon that starts at 6:20 a.m. and wraps up at midnight.

"This is the first time (a full Ironman has taken place in Boulder), so we're not entirely sure what to expect," Ingram said. "We believe we're as prepared as we can be."

From businesses such as Conor O'Neills and McGuckin Hardware to locals and athletes, today marked a day of preparation for, and anticipation of, the world's largest Ironman race.

At Conor O'Neills on Sunday, it's "all hands on deck" and then some. Ingram brought in a few former employees for temporary help during the weekend.

Despite some additional wrinkles of uncertainty that emerged Saturday — plans were scrapped for the beer garden in the Wells Fargo parking lot across the street — Ingram said the event will give the bar a chance to show off its offerings, ambience, music and food to a variety of new patrons.

Across town, a Boulder institution took actions to serve as a hub for spectators and race organizers.

McGuckin Hardware, 2525 Arapahoe, positioned itself as a haven for "Ironfans" by hosting a sign-making table and having several Ironman experts from IPA Endurance on hand to provide advice for both athletes and spectators.

As she stood by a table filled with markers and poster board, Louise Garrels, McGuckin's marketing manager and wife of an IPA Endurance coach, had no shortage of quick-hit tips.

"They just have to keep busy," she said of her advice for spectators. "Also, you'll clap for so long your hands will go numb. Use cowbells to save your voice and hands."

In addition to cowbells, McGuckin Hardware has had a run on several other random items during the past few days as race organizers popped in to the "everything store" to fill needs. That has included duct tape to mark the direction of the course, small swimming pools in which waters and Gatorade could get an icy bath, and asphalt filler kits to patch small pot holes that could endanger cyclists.

The sign-making table — which will continue on race day along with some barbecuing of brats on the west side of the McGuckin building — buzzed with activity on Saturday as spectators created unique and "cheeky" signs.

"You're not slow, you're just enjoying the course," read one. "I heard Ryan Gosling is at the finish line (run faster!)," read another.

As her daughters crafted colorful signs, Donna Shaw lounged in a nearby camping chair, a brief bit of relaxation before the 140.6 miles she'll swim, bike and run on Sunday.

Shaw, 49, trained for seven months in anticipation of her inaugural Ironman and her expectations are fairly simple.

"Just to finish; just to cross that finish line," Shaw said, laughing. "Finish in one piece with a smile on my face."

At the Boulder Reservoir on Saturday, athletes funneled in throughout the day to drop off their bicycles and related gear.

Before handing off his bike, Clive Heke gave one final inspection to the wheels. Sunday will mark the seventh Ironman for the 49-year-old Heke, who proposed to his wife after his first Ironman.

Sunday also will mark the first time he and his wife have not been at a race together. She's back home in the Bay Area taking care of their 17-month-old baby.

"A little bit of me is back in California," Heke said.

For athlete Sue Downing, the Ironman Boulder signifies a homecoming.

Downing, 43, now a resident of Philadelphia, previously lived in Fort Collins. She credits the locale and the state of Colorado as a whole for spurring her love of cycling and being outdoors.

"It set me up for a lifetime of being active," she said. "Being back here is sort of a spiritual thing."

Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or