Butterfield hoping he can stay injury-free
Tyler Butterfield hopes his niggling injuries are behind him after breezing to victory in the Tokio Millennium Re Sprint Triathlon in Hamilton yesterday.
As expected, the 33-year-old was thoroughly dominant and encouragingly felt no recurrence of his recent calf troubles as he completed the 750 metres swim, 20 kilometres bike and 5km run in a time of 58min 21sec.
Butterfield was forced to withdraw just two minutes into the run at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championships last month because of a calf strain.
With yesterday's race his first since those championships in St George, Utah, Butterfield said he purposefully pushed himself harder than was required so to gauge his recovery.
“I wanted to put the calf under the stress of a race and that's why I went pretty hard today,” Butterfield said.
“There was no reason to just float around. I biked pretty hard to make sure I could test the calf on the run.
“The sprint distance is obviously shorter [than the Ironman], but it's a good distance to test the calf. Today felt fine and I didn't even notice it.”
Butterfield admits he is not quite where he needs to be as he builds towards the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October, but is confident that he is making “positive steps”.
He enjoyed a career-best finish of fifth in last year's championships and had intended to chase a podium position this time around.
“I can't say I'm in great form or flying and I'm not above where I was last year,” Butterfield said, “I've taken five weeks off running, so I'm really not sure how much I've lost.
“The great thing about triathlon is that it's pretty easy to do a couple more swims or a couple of more bikes, and your overall training volume is the same.”
Butterfield, who will perform in next weekend's National Time-Trial Championships at Clearwater, will discover just how much he has “lost” when he competes in a fortnight at the Ironman 70.3 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
He will then travel to Europe for a Challenge Roth race, an ironman triathlon held annually in Germany, although he accepts he may not be able to finish.
“My next race in Idaho will be the real test and it's good that I've got all of the way until October [until the Ironman World Championships],” he said.
“Then I'll be doing an Ironman in Roth, which will be a big jump from a 5km today to 42km in five weeks.
“In Roth, the run will be touch and go whether I can actually finish. It's not great going into a race knowing you may not finish, but it's worth trying sometimes.
“My situation is not ideal but you have to make do. Every professional athlete has injuries and that's part and parcel of the game.”
Matthew Oliveira, who has dominated the local cycling scene this year, finished second in 1:04:29, with Matt Thompson third in 1:05:57.
Ashley Estwanik continued her impressive form since taking up triathlon, crossing the line as the first woman in 1:06:26 to finish eighth overall.
Erica Hawley was the second woman to finish, coming home in 1:09:09, with Megan Kelly third in 1:10:29.
Estwanik started competing in the event only because of an Achilles injury last season that prevented her from running.
“I had a better swim than I expected, which is the weakest of the three for me, and then it was a matter of catching up on the bike,” Estwanik said.
“I had a few people out there watching who were telling me how far ahead Erica and the others were ahead of me, and then it was a case of just reeling them in.”
Also in action yesterday was Jessica Lewis, the wheelchair athlete, who has qualified for the Paralympic Games in Rio in September, where she will compete in the 100, 400 and 800 metres.
“I've done races this year in Switzerland, Arizona and Indianapolis, so I've been doing a lot of travelling as I get ready for Rio,” Lewis said.
“I feel like my preparations are going really well. I've been working on my endurance and stamina-building for the longer events.
“I'm not strong enough yet, but I hope to be down the road.”