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Butterfield building nicely for Hawaii

Strong field: Butterfield races in Queensland this weekend

Tyler Butterfield has targeted a top-ten finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mooloolaba, Queensland — his final race before the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Butterfield won his first 70.3 at Timberman in the White Mountains in Gilford, New Hampshire, last month and hopes to build on that encouraging performance in the Sunshine Coast.

This weekend’s race features a 1.9-kilometres swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run.

Although Jan Frodeno, of Germany, the defending champion, has decided not to race, Butterfield will face far stiffer competition than at Timberman against some of the best long-course professionals competing, including two-times winner and favourite Sebastian Kienle.

“Timberman was a nice confidence boost but this will be a different level of competition,” said Butterfield, who finished eighth in last year’s race.

“Realistically I’m looking to scrape into the top ten and then I’ll be happy. I could quite easily have a good day and finish fifteenth.

At a World Championships a lot of the guys feel the pressure and sometimes that means you can climb a little higher.

“I’ll be up against the best guys in the world at this distance and it’s a good way of knowing where I’m at five weeks out from Kona.”

Butterfield’s win at Timberman was especially welcome after an early season fraught with illness and injury, and he believes he is starting “to turn his season around” ahead of Kona.

He produced the greatest performance of his career after recording a sensational fifth-place finish in last year’s World Championships, beating his previous best of seventh in 2013.

“Kona is the big one and I’m looking for another top ten there,” Butterfield said.

“I’m a little bit behind where I would like to be, but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise and I’ll be a little fresher than expected. You’re going to get hiccups and injuries along the way, especially when you’ve done this as along as I have. “It’s just like any other job. You have good and bad days, good and bad years. I’m happy where I’m at.”

The Ironman World Championships — the sport’s most iconic event — will be held in Kona on October 8.

Local amateur triathletes Ashley Estwanik, Neil Lupsic, Allison Petty Schindel and Phil Mace are also competing in Mooloolaba this weekend.