Butterfield eyes top of family tree
Tyler Butterfield, the Bermuda triathlete, is determined to outdo his father by becoming the family’s top performer at the prestigious Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, this weekend.
Butterfield recorded a sensational seventh-place finish at last year’s Championship, finishing the 2.4- mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and marathon in a time of 8hr 24min 9sec.
It was exactly the same place that his father, Jim, finished more than 30 years ago when the sport of triathlon was in its infancy.
“Ever since I was a kid, this is the race that stuck out,” Butterfield said.
“My dad did it back in ’81. I remember as a kid looking at photos of him walking around in his run shorts after the race.
“They weren’t even photos; they were slides that my dad had. For me it’s more than just racing; it’s more than just my job as a professional athlete do well here.
“I have a passion for the race and know the history of the race. I want to do well here and it was nice to tie with my dad [last year] as he got seventh. Hopefully this year I can knock him off the family list.”
Butterfield, who defended his Bermuda Day Half-Marathon Derby before finishing nineteenth at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, has once again tailored his training to ensure that he hits peak form at the Hawaii Ironman — considered the world’s toughest triathlon.
“Last year I put everything into Kona and it paid dividends,” he said.
“I trained on the course, I did time-trials on the course and it played out well.
“I don’t think I’m as talented as some of the other guys on the circuit, but I commit everything for this race.
“I’m not trying to peak in June when some of the other guys are winning races. I plan my year to be fit in October and hopefully I’ve done the same this year.
“I guess we will see on Saturday whether it’s worked out again.”
Such is his passion for the Hawaii Ironman, Butterfield said that he is more than happy to sacrifice strong performances in early-season races so as not to jeopardise his chances on the “Big Island”.
Those carefully laid plans went slightly awry, however, when he pulled off a surprise victory in the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March — his maiden major long-course win.
“I don’t wake up wanting to win a 70.3 or an Ironman,” he said. “I’d rather finish third [in Hawaii] and for it to be my best performance ever than to win another race. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice winning.
“I went to Abu Dhabi to test a new position on my bike and I thought I was going to get fifth or third on my best day. It was more of a relief [when I won] because I haven’t won many races. That’s not really what I train for; I train to do well in Kona.”
The World Championship, the annual culmination of a series of Ironman triathlon qualification races held throughout the world, will be held on Saturday.