Tyler Butterfield gets season off to impressive start with top-five finish in Florida
Tyler Butterfield got his season off to a strong start after securing a top-five finish while competing in the Clash Endurance Miami triathlon series at the Homestead-Miami Speedway track in Florida.
Despite enduring less than ideal preparation in the build up to the race ― having tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of January ― the 39-year-old rolled back the years with a spirited performance to clinch a fifth-place finish.
Competing among the highly-competitive Pro field, Butterfield completed the challenging course of a 1600 metres swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run in a combined time of 2hr 43mins 18sec, crossing the line a little more than four minutes adrift of race winner Sam Long, of the United States.
“Finishing fifth was probably the best result I could have realistically achieved,” said Butterfield. “As an athlete you always look at improvements that could have been made in certain areas but that was probably always going to be my best-case scenario.
“Unfortunately I had Covid at the beginning of January and so my training preparation was far from ideal. That made me nervous going into the race and so I was delighted to come away with a top-five finish.
“It was a tough race for sure but I think using my experience helped and ultimately it paid off. As you get older you take all the good races that you can and it was great to be out there and prove to myself that I can still hang with the younger guys.
“To race on the Nascar track was also pretty amazing. All around it was a great weekend overall, particularly for my first race of the year.”
Having previously alluded to the probability of retiring over the past two years, Butterfield conceded the possible opportunity to once again represent Bermuda at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, in July, is proving too enticing of a proposition.
The aspiration is to line up alongside compatriots Dame Flora Duffy, Erica Hawley and Tyler Smith to compete in the mixed team relay event; in what could prove a fitting full circle finale to an impressive professional career in triathlon for Butterfield.
“The ultimate goal for me this year is to hopefully get the four of us together for the mixed team relay at the Commonwealth Games,” he added.
“The 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, was my first major event. It would be so fun to do it again 20 years later with three other Bermudians in a mixed team relay.”
In Florida, Long came from 32nd to first on the bike to set up an impressive victory.
The 26-year-old American, the top-ranked athlete in the field, made light of the hot and humid conditions which had caused so many problems earlier in the day in a dramatic women’s event which was won by Ashleigh Gentle.
Despite losing ground in a frantic start to the swim, he set a course-record bike split of 1:19:18 to put a very different complexion on things. That gave him a 23-second advantage at the start of the run, with Magnus Ditlev and Ben Kanute – who led for most of the bike leg – the only two to keep him in range early on.
But that pair were overhauled on the penultimate lap by Jason West, who came out of the pack to take second, with Kanute keeping on for third in an all-American top three. Denmark’s Ditlev dropped back after struggling late on with the heat.
Long was relentless up front and stopped the clock in 2:39:55.