Pressure is on, admits Butterfield
Tyler Butterfield admits that he is feeling a little extra pressure heading into next weekend’s Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, Kona, after his superb seventh-place finish last year.
Butterfield is already in Hawaii preparing for the gruelling event, featuring the world’s top long-course triathletes, and he is confident as he aims for another top-ten finish.
“Everything is lining up similar to last year so I’m pretty excited to see how it will pan out,” Butterfield said.
“Last year I had a little less pressure and was pretty confident, but I think the field this year is a bit stronger and the goal again is a top ten.”
Butterfield came desperately close to a podium finish among the 2,100 entries at last year’s race. He was in fourth place and closing in on the leaders before tiring a couple of miles from the finish line.
He finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and full marathon in 8hr 24min 9sec, almost 12 minutes behind winner Frederik Van Lierde, of Belgium, in 8:12.29.
“I never thought I would be as high as fourth place throughout the race,” Butterfield said. “It gave me confidence and hope that I can do well here one year, whether that’s this year or in future years, we’ll have to wait and see.
“I couldn’t have done anything better this season with the way I planned the year; I’m injury free.”
Butterfield said that the expectations of him were higher after his stellar showing 12 months ago.
“New sponsors have come on board and they expect a top-ten finish every year,” he said.
“It doesn’t seem like we have a boss as professional athletes but we definitely answer to people in terms of our results and the way we carry ourselves before and after the race.
“Whether it’s a good day or a bad day you have to be professional about it and there is more pressure.
“All my sponsors are very good to me; they want me to race well. The ones who are trying to sell the products that we represent want you to be up at the front because that’s how they sell their products — there’s a bit more pressure there.
“You can’t get more funding and not have the pressure. This year has been pretty good so far.
“This is the Ironman that everyone shows up at 100 per cent, and if you’re not 100 per cent then you have ‘overcooked’ yourself or injured. There are no excuses; this is the climax of the season.”
Butterfield accepts that he has his work cut out as he goes up against the world’s top triathletes.
“There are 20 to 25 guys who can be top ten,” he said. “It is definitely a realistic goal but there is a possibility I might now make that.
“You just have to make sure that when you have decisions you make the right choices. There are certain things you have to do; you have to swim hard, but then on the bike you can choose to push the pace at the beginning or hold back to the end.
“You don’t want to let too many people get off the bike in front of you as then you have to hunt them down. Tactics come into play and a lot of it depends on how you swim.”
The swim is the weaker of the three disciplines for Butterfield, but he believes that he has made some improvements.
“My swimming improved a lot a couple of years ago and now it has stayed the same,” he said. “It’s holding where it is and will definitely be one of the weaker parts of my race.”