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Quitting race was best option for Butterfield

Tyler Butterfield admits he withdrew from the Hawaii Ironman World Championship five miles into the marathon as he felt it was better to “live to fight another day” rather than risk injury.

Butterfield fell well adrift of the frontrunners after receiving a demoralising drafting penalty during the bike at a critical juncture, shattering his chances of a competitive finish.

Rather than battle on and risk re-injuring a calf strain that prevented him from running for eight weeks this season, Butterfield made the tough call to quit and ensure he is healthy to compete again in a few weeks.

Having failed to pick up any points in Kona, Butterfield will not have the luxury of cherry picking his races and faces a busy schedule to ensure he qualifies for next year's championship.

“I didn't have the fight in me during the run and felt similar to last year when I had stomach issues,” said Butterfield, who placed a career-best fifth in last year's race.

“When you're that far down and in discomfort with a whole marathon ahead of you, it's difficult to dig deep.

“It was a question of will I get another injury that will put me behind the eightball when I start back in training in two weeks.

“I was pushing on for the sake of it and wasn't going to get anything out of the race to help me return here next year.”

Butterfield was reasonably happy with his 2.4 miles swim, exiting the water in 28th position in a time of 50min 7sec and fought hard on the bike to rejoin the lead pack before he was penalised for drafting.

He was at the bottom of the toughest climb to the turnaround in Hawaii when he received a penalty, which he described as a significant psychological blow.

“Some of the big bikers had worse swims than me and were behind me, and we all caught up [to the leaders] at the same time,” said Butterfield, who finished the 112-miles bike in 4:48:20 in 39th.

“I was then back in the game and pretty happy to be where I had hoped to be at the beginning of the race.

“When I was given a penalty card it was demoralising as I knew that when I got to the top of the biggest hill, I was just going to have to stand there for five minutes.

“I'm a good biker, not a great biker, and I can chase back once but not twice. To make up the deficit after the swim was a hard enough effort.”

“I can't use it as my only excuse as the guy who came third [Patrick Lange, also from Germany] had an incredible day and served a penalty at the beginning. Things just didn't go my way.”

Butterfield is fiftieth in the Kona Points Ranking System, the final qualifying position, after earning 715 points with a thirteenth-place finish at last month's Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mooloolaba, Australia.

His race schedule before next August's qualifying deadline will now be built around chasing the points required, believed to be in the region of 4,000.

“I will have a small break but not much because I didn't finish the run and that's the most damaging on the body,” he said.

“I'll sit down and look at how to get back next year and follow the points. It's the world championship and I love being there each year and that will be the goal.

“My year is almost planned out now and if I want to be here next year I have to do certain races. It's important to not only qualify but to be back in Kona in great shape.”

Jan Frodeno, of Germany, and Daniela Ryf, of Switzerland, successfully defended their titles in Hawaii.

Frodeno's time of 8:06:30 was the third-fastest in the event's 38-year history, and Ryf had an 8:46:46 to smash the women's course record by more than five minutes.

With a run time of 2:39:45, Lange broke the 27-year-old course record set by Mark Allen in 1989.

Demoralising moment: the drafting penalty left Butterfield well adrift of the leaders (Photograph by Korupt Vision)

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Published October 11, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 11, 2016 at 8:12 am)

Quitting race was best option for Butterfield

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