Restless Butterfield ready to race again
Tyler Butterfield only has to finish this weekend’s Ironman Cozumel to guarantee a place on the start line at next year’s Ironman World Championships.
It will be Butterfield’s fourth ironman in less than six months, which by his own admission “is not the smartest thing to do”.
However, he is eager to give himself the best chance of a podium finish next year in Hawaii, and admits he had grown restless after a two-week break since his career-best fifth-place at last month’s championships.
“I took it easy for two weeks after Hawaii and then picked another ironman as I was getting a little bored,” said Butterfield, who returned to the Island for last weekend’s Bermuda Triathlon Association awards at Riddell’s Bay Golf and Country Club.
“I’ve been very careful not to pick up an injury and this race should set up my 2016. I literally just need to finish to have qualified for next year’s Hawaii Ironman.”
Butterfield has competed twice in the Ironman Cozumel, held on an island off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, finishing fourth in 2009 and second in 2013.
The Colorado-based triathlete, who aims to finish in less than nine hours, will be up against several of the same faces he competed against at the championships, including Ivan Rana, of Spain, a former Cozumel winner.
Although the majority of those have previously beaten Butterfield and boast the more impressive résumés, the Bermuda triathlete can take confidence from knowing he outperformed this weekend’s rivals in Kona.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” he said. “There will be a few of the guys from Kona who have beat me before.
“But I finished ahead of them last month, although their résumés will outclass mine and I don’t count them out at all.
“I won’t know how tired I am until I get into the race. I had to dig pretty deep in Kona to finish where I did.”
With a spot at next year’s Hawaii Ironman almost certain, Butterfield should be able to enjoy pressure-free preparations in pursuit of conquering the “holy grail” of triathlon.
However, he is aware of the perils of taking his foot off the gas, considering this year’s fifth-place place and his seventh in 2013 came after hectic seasons chasing qualification points.
“I was in a similar position two years ago when I went to Cozumel and came second,” Butterfield said. “I went into Kona in 2014 ranked fifth but had a terrible day.
“Whereas this year and in 2013 I had to race a lot to qualify and placed well. I think it’s important to stay hungry even when the pressure is off. I realise that some pressure makes you race well.”
Butterfield suspects his relatively leisurely build-up to last year’s championships may have contributed him failing to finish because of an unforeseen back problem.
“It’s important to do some of the ‘big league’ races because that can translate into a good result in Kona,” he said.
“They show you when you’re going well, and give you a good correlation of how your training is going. Either that, or you get your ass whooped.”