Since 2016, the city of Delaware has hosted the annual IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio triathlon. Between athletes and their families, the triathlon has welcomed thousands to the community over the past four years. However, the city will have to wait until next year to see the event’s return after a final decision was rendered last week to cancel the 2020 event.
The decision was communicated to all registered athletes, as well as the volunteers associated with the event’s production, via email on June 11.
“Based on the mandate from the City of Delaware, Ohio, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio triathlon … cannot take place in 2020 and will return on July 25, 2021,” the email stated. “We value your support of this race as a volunteer and thank you for your commitment and understanding during this time.”
While the city was unfamiliar with the referenced mandate in the email, Community Affairs Coordinator Lee Yoakum said there were several factors that rendered the city an impractical host for the event this year.
“The decision was not one made easily or in haste,” Yoakum told The Gazette. “Our reasons included a lack of support from neighboring public safety partners, some of which are facing pandemic-related budget cuts, our continued focus on COVID-19 issues here in Delaware, and the aftermath of a flood in our downtown, permitting not being in place to use the state park, and a section of the run course on U.S. 42 at Greenwood Lake being closed through August due to a sinkhole under the road.”
Yoakum said all those factors prevented the city from being able to plan and produce a quality event in 2o20, and the city’s focus has already shifted to preparing for next year’s event, which will be held July 25, 2021.
The course for the event includes a 1.2-mile swim at the Delaware State Park, a 56-mile biking course, and a 13.1-mile run through the city. Top performers in the event qualify for IRONMAN’s world championship event, which was scheduled to be held in Hawaii in October but has been postponed to February due to the state’s policies and international border restrictions as a result of the pandemic.
As for the financial impact the event’s cancelation will have on the city, Yoakum said that while he’s not sure of specific figures, “IRONMAN provides an immediate impact on the local economy for such things as restaurants, stores, lodging, gasoline, etc. All will be impacted in 2020 minus the 2,500 athletes and families enjoying our city over three days in July.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.