Some Delaware residents may be living under a rock if they don’t know the city’s inaugural Ironman 70.3 Ohio triathlon is happening this weekend.
Electronic message boards have been stationed throughout some of the major thoroughfares, including on U.S. 36 and State Route 37 to inform drivers about potential traffic disruptions and detours. The city of Delaware has posted a countdown on its Facebook and Twitter accounts since last week.
“It’s going to be a big deal,” said Ted Miller, the city’s parks and natural resources director, during a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting Tuesday . “Last I heard, there are 2,600 athletes now and they capped out. That’s many as they can take right now. There is still room for volunteers.”
This will be the 30th such event of its kind in the United States, and the first in the state, consisting of a 1.2-mile swim in Delaware Lake; a 56-mile bike ride through Delaware, Marion and Morrow counties; and a 13.1-mile run that starts and finishes at Selby Stadium in Delaware. The event runs Aug. 19-21.
“Final preparations have been great,” said Ken Hammond, the event’s director, in an email. “The city of Delaware, Ohio Wesleyan (University) and all of central Ohio have been extremely helpful. We could not ask for a better host. We still have many items we are focused on at this point. First and foremost, making sure all aspects of the course are set up and in place for athletes to have a great race day.”
Hammond met with city officials Tuesday morning to go over details with staff for the actual race on Sunday.
“I think the Ironman is going to be such a great event for the Delaware community,” Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle told The Gazette last month.
Event and state officials are monitoring the Delaware Lake, which had a case of high levels of the E. coli bacteria in late July. Delaware’s E. coli bacteria level at the time was at 359 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters, well above the 235 cfu/100 ml level for Ohio water quality recommendations. Two samples taken on Aug. 2 and Aug. 9 indicate E. coli levels have dropped, respectively, to 10 and 20 cfu/100 ml.
“We are aware of the recent advisory and have been in contact with local and state agencies,” Hammond said. “We continually monitor and assess contingency options should the water quality dictate a change.”
A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said with levels below the identified acceptable limits, the established testing schedule is once again being maintained. Delaware’s next scheduled testing is Aug. 23.
Athletes will check in at Selby Stadium starting at noon Friday and will be briefed in the afternoon. A spaghetti dinner will take place in conjunction at St. Mary Catholic Church, 82 E. William St., at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The race will start at Delaware State Park Beach at 7 a.m. Sunday and ends at Selby Stadium.
The event is expected to bring a $2.5 million economic impact to the county, according to Sean Hughes, the city’s economic development director and business concierge.
“Any time we can bring people into the county for business or entertainment, it is an opportunity for the community to sell itself,” he said. “This also makes everyone an economic development official for the county during these occasions. Every smiling volunteer gives us an opportunity to succeed.”
For more information about volunteer opportunities, call Michele Kohler at 740-203-1010.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.