Butterfield in seventh heaven
Tyler Butterfield recorded a sensational seventh-place finish at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships on Saturday.
It was exactly the same place that father Jim finished more than 30 years ago when the event was in its infancy.
This time Butterfield was up against the world's leading professionals and he came desperately close to earning a place on the podium as he was in fourth place and closing in on the leaders before tiring some two miles to the finish line.
The gruelling event — a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon (26.2 miles) — is considered one of the toughest races in the world.
This year it attracted more than 2,100 entries all of whom had to qualify.
Butterfield was timed in eight hours, 24 minutes and nine seconds — less than 12 minutes behind winner Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium (8:12:29).
“I had a really good swim and felt comfortable,” said Butterfield from his hotel last night.
“I wasn't sure if I was in the first group or second group, but I could see the people I was with. I got on the bike and moved forward to the front very quickly and got up to fourth or fifth position and just sat there for the first quarter of the ride.
“We were all together at halfway and five or six of us decided to push the pace and then that six split into two and four and two caught the leader. Everyone was in small groups which suited me.
“It was an eventful day and I really pushed the bike. I was most nervous about the swim before the start. I was confident in my biking and running but my run wasn't really I had hoped for and at mile three I thought I might not even finish.
“To hang on for fourth for so long felt good and then in the last two miles I went from fourth to seventh, but I have to be happy with a top 10 and that's what I came here for.”
The Bermudian, who is based in Boulder, Colorado, emerged from the water in seventh place, clocking 51:24 — just 22 seconds behind the leader.
He continued to improve with a 4:30:10 cycle.
And was on course for astonishing marathon before slowing down just after the 23-mile mark to eventually clock 2:58:22 — 16th best.
“It was hard looking at the photos for the press conference knowing only the top five go into the press conference and to know I was there (top five) for so long,” he added.
“That's maybe a good thing because in the future it will keep me motivated to keep pushing and trying to improve.
“It was hot and humid and towards the end of the run I was cramping a little but everybody goes through their problems so I wasn't the only one. I have to be happy to hang onto seventh.
“I fell from fourth to seventh pretty quickly. At the start of the run I was in seventh and then ran up to fourth and then fell back to seventh so I finished in the same place I started.
“A friend of mine sprinted past me in the last mile and I couldn't go with him. I decided to carry the Bermuda flag down the finishing tube which was nice. If I had decided to sprint with him I would have had to run by my family and missed the opportunity to grab the flag. It's always nice to represent Bermuda.”
Two other Bermuda athletes also completed the course.
Mark Wilcox finished 715th in 10:10:32 (249th in the 45-49 age group) while Julia Hawley was 1,655th in 12:57:28 (44th in the female 50-54 age group).
Karen Smith also qualified but had to withdraw because of illness.
Long-time leader Luke McKenzie of Australia finished second in 8:15:19 and third place went to Sebastian Kienle of Germany in 8:19:46.
Women's winner Australian Mirinda Carfrae stunned spectators as she ripped through the field with a 2:50:38 marathon, the third fastest overall.