Butterfield aims for record on familiar turf
Tyler Butterfield hopes to make a memorable Commonwealth Games even more special by setting a new national record in tomorrow’s marathon.
Butterfield has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance on the Gold Coast, finishing a respectable eighteenth in the individual triathlon — despite the sprint distance going against his body’s natural skill set.
Two days later he was nothing short of spectacular during the final leg of the mixed team relay to bring Bermuda home in fifth position, just 1min 16sec off the podium.
Tomorrow’s race, which will also be held in Southport Broadwater Parklands, will be only the third marathon of the 35-year-old’s career. He knows the course like the back of his hand, though.
Not only did he live in the seaside city for two years as a teenager, his first 26.2-mile race was the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2004, where he finished 28th in a time of 2hr 41min 46sec.
“This is sort of a home away from home and I will enjoy it,” Butterfield said.
“My wife [Nikki Butterfield] is from Brisbane and we met on the Gold Coast. The course is where we used to ride our bikes every day.
“I went to school down here and saw my old school while running the other day. It’s a nice course and it brings back memories.
“My first marathon was here, my last long run before the Athens Olympics [in 2004]. In hindsight it probably wasn’t the best thing for me to do. It’s not the ideal thing to do three months out, but I was getting bored of the training and decided to do something different.”
It took Butterfield another 14 years before he returned to marathon. He won the 43rd Bermuda Marathon, part of the Bermuda Marathon Weekend, in January in 2:27:07.
Chris Estwanik, a training partner of Butterfield, holds the fastest time set by an island resident after finishing the 2013 Boston Marathon in 2:19:55, while Raymond Swan owns the Bermudian record in 2:26:37.
“I’m hoping to do a faster time than I did in Bermuda,” Butterfield said.
“Chris Estwanik and a few others have gone sub-2:20 and I know from training with Chris that the Olympic standard is 2:18.
“If I could get close to 2:20 [tomorrow] then I’d look to see if I could train more specifically [for marathon]. It’s hard when I’m still racing triathlon.
“[Triathlon] is a great job to have. It’s my hobby and it started as my hobby. As I get older I will do more races that I want to do, races that I enjoy rather than looking at the prize money and points to qualify for the [Hawaii Ironman] World Championships.”
Butterfield remembers competing against Michael Shelley, the home-town favourite, during the two years he lived on the Gold Coast.
He said it will be only fitting if Shelley, 34, defends the gold medal he won at the 2014 Glasgow Games.
“I know one guy from when I was running at school,” Butterfield said. “Michael Shelley, he’s from the Gold Coast and is one of the favourites.
“He’s taller than me and weighs 30 pounds less than me. It will be awesome to see him out there and, personally, I’d like to see him defend because he’s a home-town boy. It was fun to race against him as a high school kid. It’s been fun to follow his career.”
Butterfield has no major concerns about “blowing up” mid-race. After all, he is more than used to running half-marathons when exhausted from his years competing in ironman.
“I’m very fit, obviously, from training for the triathlon and I’ve got the hours in,” said the Colorado-based athlete.
“I try to challenge myself and try to go out fast. That’s probably not the best tactic for a marathon because if you blow up it’s such a long way.
“If you blow up at the halfway point, you’ve still got 13 miles to run.
“But I’ve talked to my coach [Julie Dibens] and she said, ‘What have you got to lose?’ Blowing up and running a half-marathon is what I do in the Ironman 70.3 races.”
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