Even a tornado couldn't spoil Ironman's debut triathlon in central Ohio.

Even a tornado couldn't spoil Ironman's debut triathlon in central Ohio.

Thousands of athletes, spectators and volunteers flocked to Delaware ahead of the Aug. 21 running of Ironman 70.3 Ohio. Shortly after 6:30 p.m. the day before the event, a "weak tornado," as described by the National Weather Service, touched down near Delaware State Park -- the site of the triathlon's swimming competition.

No one was injured in the storm, which caused some damage to area trees and structures.

"We really dodged a bullet there," Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said. "It really did not impact anything."

With the notable exception of the prerace storm, local officials said the event went relatively smoothly in its first year.

Pijanowski said a lot of credit belongs to the more than 1,000 volunteers, as well as the Ironman organization.

"I thought it went really well," he said. "Ironman was fantastic to work with. They were true professionals."

Sandy Mackey, acting director of the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, said it was almost surprising such a big event could make such a smooth debut.

"It really was a very well-planned out and -executed event," she said.

Mackey said emergency services did not respond to any major injuries during the event, and added the weather after Saturday's tornado was "beautiful." She said cooperation among safety forces within Delaware, Marion and Morrow counties was key to the success of the event, especially its lengthy bike race.

Pijanowski said every safety agency involved in the event did its part.

"I think we're fortunate in central Ohio," he said. "We all tend to work well together."

Pijanowski said city officials will continue to meet in the coming weeks to evaluate how they can improve operations when Ironman returns next year. He said parking and traffic are among the areas police officials will take another long look at before Ironman's 2017 running.

Delaware Mayor Carolyn Riggle, who helped coordinate the efforts of about 1,200 volunteers, called the event "fabulous." She said the race could not have been successful without the volunteers, adding she was not surprised so many people around town were willing to give their time.

"I know Delaware has a good heart," she said. "Most of the people here want to help. They want to give back."

Riggle said one aspect of the event city officials may look to change ahead of next year's competition is its timing. This year, the race was held on a weekend when many Ohio Wesleyan University students were moving onto campus.

City spokesman Lee Yoakum said Delaware and OWU officials "would like to avoid move-in weekend." He said city officials planned to discuss the event late last week, adding the public could expect additional tweaks ahead of next year's race.

OWU's Selby Stadium served as a key staging point for Ironman before and during the triathlon, and school officials assisted local leaders in the event.

The city spent $4,500 in bed-tax revenue on beautification efforts in the downtown area and additional signs ahead of the event.

Riggle said she thought efforts to present Delaware's best face for the competition paid off for the city.

"I heard so many comments about how beautiful our downtown is," she said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick