Butterfield keeps up family tradition

  • Surprise, surprise: Nikki Butterfield breaks the tape at Bernard Park to win the women’s title yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Surprise, surprise: Nikki Butterfield breaks the tape at Bernard Park to win the women’s title yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Nikki Butterfield kept up a family tradition of title winners when she won the Bermuda Day Half Marathon Derby women’s race today.

The Australian-born wife of Tyler Butterfield — himself a past winner along with parents Jim and Debbie and cousin-in-law Ashley Couper — joined the list after a strong run out of Somerset yesterday.

The former professional triathlete set the pace early on and held on to the lead to win by almost a minute over second placed Christine Dailey in 1hr 33min 20sec.

“I really had to work hard for that,” said the 36-year old who, along with Tyler, only decided to travel to Bermuda a couple of weeks ago after son Walker said he wanted to visit his cousin.

“It’s a privilege to join a long line of Butterfields who have won this event,” said Butterfield, who is based in Colorado.

“I told another reporter that if Debbie has been running in her best shape she would beaten me by 15 minutes today! I’m definitely not getting ahead of myself.”

Butterfield started training in March just to keep Tyler’s company as he continues competing as a professional triathlete. “Christine really pushed all the way to the line when I really wanted to ease off.

“I looked back and she was right there.

“She had these really bright orange shorts on which was perfect for me because when I turned around I could see her. The first five miles were so hard it was uncomfortable, then the cloud cover came with about four or five miles to go and it cooled off then.

“It was hot for everybody and you just had to get on with it. My favourite place is the Johnny Barnes corner. If I come back again next year I’ll try to run more leading up.”

Like last year’s winner, Deon Breary, Butterfield was 22nd overall, with Christine Dailey 27th overall in 1:34.07.

Martina Olcheski-Bell, 27th overall last year and the second woman in 2017 out of St George’s, was the third female finisher time, 30th overall in 1:35.12, a time that was faster than last year’s 1:36:53.

Gayle Lindsay was fourth in 1:37:18 while Deon Breary, the defending champion, completed the top five. Her time of 1:38.16 was almost three minutes slower than her winning time of 1:35.38 a year ago.

“I think I did everything right, I had a hamstring injury and was just building from the injury, but I think I did awesome,” said Breary, who was aiming for a third title.

“I have no complaints, no excuses, I did the best I could after coming back from injury. It was a tough race, although not as bad as two years ago.”

This year the focus quickly switched to Butterfield after the first couple of miles as she showed the determination to keep up the family tradition, after husband Tyler was forced to pull out because of a calf injury.

He was a late entry for the cycle race and was leading going down Cedar Avenue before losing to Dominque Mayho in the sprint finish. Nikki Butterfield last competed in the race in 2014 when she finished second to Couper, though there was some controversy over her eligibility for the residents-only race which is in its 109th year.

Being the spouse of a Bermudian qualifiers her and yesterday the crowd cheered on the new champion as she maintained her lead through Southampton and Warwick and then onto Harbour Road where she increased her lead.

“I’m honoured just to compete here, obviously we need to live away in order for Tyler to do his job,” she stressed. “He doesn’t have any plans to retire any time soon.

He kept asking me to train with him but I kept saying I didn’t have the time. We have 47 animals in Colorado which keeps me busy ... horses, llamas, goats, chickens.” Dailey had to settle for second place, just five places and 47 seconds behind Butterfield.

“I had a good run and stuck to my plan so I’m happy with that,” said Dailey, 31, the daughter of former Premier Michael Dunkley. “Nikki doesn’t live here so I didn’t know what kind of shape she is in.

“I was kind of behind her but at the top of Burnt House Hill she kind of took off and I could tell that was her making her move, kind of saying ‘check you later’.

“I tried to close the gap on the uphill which I did but she opened it up on the downhills. I don’t do that but now I will. Deon was with me the first four miles or so, but Nikki went out about 20 yards in front of us.

“Larry Marshall Sr, who has been working with me the past few months, said to go 7.10 first and second mile, nice and easy, and I did that.

“I’m definitely very happy with my run but I’m a really competitive person and disappointed I didn’t win. I’ll be back next year.”

Olcheski-Bell is happy with another top three finish. “It was hot and humid but I was expecting it,” she said of the conditions.

“I started off slow, the top five girls were kind running together but I kind of held back. I felt wonderful running down Front Street. I was second last year and third this year and that was my goal. It was a tough course and I wasn’t going for a time. The crowd was awesome, I love it.”

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Published May 25, 2018 at 8:25 pm (Updated May 25, 2018 at 11:41 pm)

Butterfield keeps up family tradition

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