Butterfield in tip-top’ shape heading into Hawaii Ironman
Bermudian triathlete Tyler Butterfield will put in a demanding eight hours in the ‘office’ tomorrow when he competes in the gruelling Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, aiming to finish among the top 15.
The Ironman is the most demanding of all triathlons, taking in a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon.
Professionals like as Butterfield will be hoping to finish the course around eight hours and 30 minutes.
“The Ironman is such a long day that you just need everything to go right or as close to right as possible,” said Butterfield from Hawaii where he has been for the past three weeks since fleeing the severe flooding in Colorado where he is based.
He said leaving Colorado earlier than planned didn’t hamper his training in any way.
“I got to come here earlier and got used to the heat. Next year I’ll come to Hawaii quite late, but either way it works. I was supposed to fly in today, but came here three weeks early.
“I’m the fittest I’ve been all year and after Las Vegas I rested for a week and then got a two week training block in. I’ve designed my race schedule around this race, so all the signs are good. What will happen on the day you’ll never know, there are 20 guys who can be top 10 and I’m sort of at the bottom of that list.
“You need your body to be as close to 100 percent as possible to push for eight-and-a-half hours. I tend to race well in the bigger races and generally don’t over train leading in, so I’m hoping I can have a solid performance that will scrape me into ninth or 10th place.”
Butterfield’s last outing saw him finish 10th in the Half Ironman World Championship in Las Vegas early in September and now he is hoping to build on that performance against the top 50 triathletes in the world.”
Added Butterfield: “A top 15 I would have to be happy with as long as things went my way, but a top 10 I would really be happy with,” he stated. “Top 15 guarantees me to come back next year but they only pay 10 deep so you really want to be in the top 10. That’s one of the flaws, in that in the World Championships they really should be paying a lot deeper.
“Other series pay way further down and a few races pay everyone who finishes in the professional category. Any race that you have to qualify to get in to really should pay a lot further than that, but we all know the rules when we decided to make this (Ironman) a main goal for the season. There are five or six guys who can win the race and one of them will have a shocking race.”
Butterfield has competed in five Ironman events before, following in the footsteps of his father Jim who competed in the Ironman in the early 1980s, finishing seventh. “It’s the highest level for the Ironman distance and I’m excited to get out there on Saturday,” he said.
“The swim is 2.4 miles and will take between 52 and 55 minutes for me, with the leaders just under 52. The bike is 112 miles and you will get a few people going under four and a half hours and the main bunch about four hours, 35 minutes and then the run you’ll get a few people going around 2:40 and the in main bulk about 2:50.
Despite a running background, Butterfield says it isn’t necessarily his strong discipline. “I’ve sort of worked on my bike and let my run go back a little, but I’m a better all-round athlete.
“Back in 2010 I was a runner and a bit weaker on the bike with the swim the poorest. Now I’m not a good swimmer but not a bad swimmer; I definitely can be called a good biker but not a great biker and running I’m solid but not great. I’m a better triathlete and on a good day I can hold my own on the bike and on a good day can hold my own on the run.
“The run has more of a question mark because it is at the end of five-and-a-half hours endurance and then you have to run a marathon! It’s not whether you are a good runner or not but whether the bike and swim has taken its toll on you.
‘Last time I did it I was around 8:40 and that year it was won in around 8:09.
“The guy who won it last year has done more than 20 Ironmans and I’m going on my sixth, so I’m still a newcomer. My best time is 8:39 in Cozumel in 2009. All indications are I’m a better athlete now than I was then. This is a big day at work, a long day, but if you do well it is most rewarding and if you don’t you go back to the drawing board and starting drawing for next year.”
Two others from Bermuda will be competing among the amateurs in the Ironman.
Mark Wilcox and Julia Hawley arrived in Hawaii this week. Karen Smith had also qualified but developed kidney stones last week and had to withdraw.
“So far it is a pretty cool scene,” said Wilcox in an e-mail. “Went for a short run and swim yesterday. The conditions for both seem very similar to Bermuda. We had a nice VIP dinner last night. Most of the pros were there including last year’s champions.”