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Schedule geared for Kona, says Butterfield

Kona will once again be Butterfield's top priority this season

Tyler Butterfield will adopt a “one race at a time” approach for the new season as he attempts to requalify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Rather than lay out a schedule, the triathlete will make choices based on prior results in order to optimise his preparation for Kona while still achieving the points required to qualify.

Butterfield, who finished fourth at the Ironman 70.3 Dubai last week, will return to action at the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas on April 22.

Athletes will begin with a 2.4-mile swim in Lake Woodlands before a 112-mile bike course through the scenic, rolling farmland of east Texas and then a 26.2-mile run within the Woodlands.

Butterfield demonstrated tremendous sportsmanship by giving up his third-place finish at the Ironman 70.3 Dubai.

He crossed the line in third but later agreed to swap positions and take fourth instead after Ruedi Wild, of Switzerland, lodged a complaint after taking a wrong turn near the finish after moving into third.

“Second or third would have been nice after leading,” Butterfield said. “But it was always known Javier [Gómez] would catch us on the run.”

Butterfield finished in a time of 3hr 45min 10sec to start his season with a solid display. He exited the 1.9-kilometres swim in ninth 24:31 but managed to take the lead after producing the fastest time for the 90km bike of 2:00:14.

Spaniard Gómez, a three-times World Triathlon Series champion, relied on his renowned speed to take victory in 3:42:21.

Josh Amberger, of Australia, was second in 3:44:38 and Wild third in 3:44:59. Ironman world champion Daniela Ryf, of Switzerland, took women’s honours in 4:01:40 after a blistering bike ride of 2:09:52.

Butterfield experienced a race to forget in Kona last year after withdrawing early on in the run. He had hoped for a top-ten finish but was only able to complete five of the 26.1-miles run.

It was the second time Butterfield, who missed eight weeks of running training last season because of a calf strain, has failed to finish the championships, having pulled out during the bike stage because of back problems in 2014.

Butterfield, however, has two stellar finishes at triathlon’s “holy grail” — which will be held on October 14 this year — with a fifth in 2015 and a seventh in 2013.