Ironman Tyler Butterfield believes he has found his best distance after ending his most successful season in style with a second place in Mexico on Sunday.
Butterfield claimed the runners-up spot at Ironman Cozumel to add to his impressive resume for 2013, which includes third at the Abu Dhabi triathlon, two Ironman podiums (Calgary and Muncie), ninth at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and a hugely-impressive seventh at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawai’i.
After last season competing for Bermuda at the Olympics in triathlon, Butterfield believes the longer Ironman event suits his natural ability better.
He said in a press release: “A lot of things are coming together for me. I’ve been racing professionally since I was a teenager and every year you just get stronger, wiser and understand what works for you better and better.
“I love racing ITU (triathlon) as it gives me a chance to represent my country in events like the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, and because the racing style forces you to constantly improve because there’s simply no room for error, but I’m finding that the Ironman distance is what suits me physically more than anything else. Both my mom and dad were good marathoners amongst other endurance sports, so it’s in my genes to focus on the longer events.”
Butterfield said the Mexico finish came as a surprise to him but proved his Kona training was still paying off. His second place was even more remarkable given he had to stop and fix his handle bars before the bike section after two screws fell out.
“It was a little disappointing to have to stop and fix my bars because if Michael Weiss (winner) had caught our group without me having to put in the effort to chase back on, I might have tried to go with him when he broke away.
"But after the effort it took to catch back up, I knew that would be a silly decision. My primary goal was to finish the race rather than win, so I played it conservative.
“Maybe it worked out for the best anyway — I certainly wasn’t expecting second place so I was surprised and thrilled to finish that high.”
He added: “I was expecting to blow up at any moment during the race as I just hadn’t done the work between Kona and Cozumel that I would usually ask of myself when aiming for an Ironman podium. But I guess I have more residual fitness from my Kona prep than I realize.”
After a break for Christmas, Butterfield and wife Nikki will await the birth of their son Walker. The Bermudian will also prepare for the Abu Dhabi triathlon and then turn his attention to representing his country at the Commonwealth Games. He will then focus on improving in his seventh place in Konu — the same finish his dad Jim managed back in 1981.
Butterfield added: "I’m really looking forward to going back to the Big Island — it’s so motivating to compete against the best guys in the world in their best form in a race with so much history. And I’ll do my best to beat my Dad’s place this time.”