Victory is by no means a certainty, says Butterfield
Tyler Butterfield, the reigning Appleby Bermuda Day Half Marathon champion, has downplayed his chances of retaining his title this year.
Butterfield’s hopes of adding to his maiden triumph have been bolstered at the expense of five-times winner, Chris Estwanik, who has been ruled out through injury for the second straight year.
Even though on paper, Butterfield, a professional triathlete, is a firm favourite to defend his title, he is not taking anything for granted and believes this year’s race remains wide open.
“There are definitely guys out there that are good enough to beat me,” Butterfield said. “Jay [Donawa], Lamont [Marshall] and Chayce [Smith] always run well.
“Chayce definitely has the speed while Donawa has the experience and can never be counted out. He has run faster than what I did last year numerous times.
“There are always favourites on paper, but the reason we all line up is because anything can happen on the day. It’s anyone’s race and if everyone runs to their potential anything can happen. I’m not really coming back to defend my title. If that happens, though, I’ll be ecstatic.”
Butterfield added: “Chris Estwanik is the best runner in Bermuda and unfortunately he is injured again this year and I wish him a speedy recovery because it is great what he is doing for Bermuda on the running scene.
“Running May 24 will be a highlight for me. I just enjoy May 24 because it is a great day for Bermuda in general.
“It really is one of the best races around the world and I look forward to doing it whenever I get the chance. For the running and cycling community, it is the biggest race for us because we get to race on open roads on a public holiday.”
Also expected to be in the hunt for overall bragging rights is policeman Stephen Allen, who finished second last year, in a personal best time of 1hr 16min 59sec.
If all goes accordingly, Butterfield, who won last month’s Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, hopes to lower his time of 1:15.03 from last year’s race.
But he insists that he is not in good enough shape to beat his personal best, which stands at 1:13:16, well outside of the race record of 1:08.25 held by Estwanik.
“I do not think I am as fit as the year I did my personal best,” Butterfield said.
“But I will be challenging myself and I would definitely like to run faster than last year.
“I feel a bit fitter than last year, so I should run faster. You always want to try and run as fast as you can.”
Butterfield bacome the first in his family to claim victory in May 24 since his mom Debbie Butterfield won the last of her seven women’s titles in 1987.
“Last year, going into the race, I did not expect to win at all,” he said.
“And then there was a little pressure put on when Chris got injured the week before the race.
“And that is racing because you can do all the preparation, but you have to show up healthy and perform on the day — and you never know what can happen.
“I want to have a good race and I am there to enjoy it.”