Tyler Butterfield produced another strong performance this weekend as he finished 7th today (Sunday 10th September) at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga whilst Karen Smith finished a creditable 15th out of 42 starters in the women’s 45-49 age group.
Pre race favorite Xavier Gomez of Spain and the USA’s Ben Kanute finished the swim in 24 min 05 secs to give themselves about a 50 second buffer over a group of pre race favorites that included Tim Don of the UK and Tyler. Sebastian Kienle of Germany, who had been expected to challenge for a podium spot, did not do himself any favors as he trailed Gomez by 4 minutes out of the water.
It was Kanute, a renowned swim / bike specialist who powered away on the challenging bike course recording a time of 2 hrs and 8 min to open up a four minute gap on a closely bunched group of challengers that included Gomez, Tim Don, Maurice Clavel of Germany Australian Sam Appleton, Kienle ( who recorded a blistering 2 hr 7 mins for the bike, and Andreas Dreitz of Germany.
Gomez, a renowned runner, then produced easily the best run of the day ( 1 r 10 min) to catch a gutsy Kanute and take the win in 3:49:45 ahead of the surprising Kanute ( 3:51:07)with Don in 3rd ( 3:52:00). As last year in Australia in these championships, it was the run that ultimately cost Tyler a podium finish as his 2 hr 17 mins 32 secs could not match Appleton ( 2 :14 41), Kienle ( 1:16:04) and Clavel (1:16:38). Tyler finished in 3 hrs 56 mins 22 secs with splits of swim : 25:20, bike : 2:10:40 and run : 1:17:32.However, in such a strong field Tyler must be encouraged by another strong performance as he continues his preparation for the full Ironman World Championships in Kona. Ultimately it will again come down to how well he can run off the bike in Kona.
Karen, who has previously finished in the podium at these championships (2nd) had a solid race, especially as she is still building to full long distance racing fitness after a lengthy period out with injuries. Karen’s favorite distance is the full IRONMAN in which she won her age group at the World CHampionships ( 40-44 age group).
Here is Karen’s race report :
I’m pretty happy with the result as this year was about rebuilding and getting fit for ironman racing after a few years off.
The swim was mostly upstream so it made for a challenging start as the current was strong and sighting was so important.
The course favored the stronger bikers. After a quick 5mile section, we started to climb Lockout Mountain. It’s 4 miles straight up. This is followed by 18 miles of punchy uphills. Finally at the crest of the mountain we were anticipating a fast downhill but instead we faced a relentless head wind. At least it was scenic.
The run course is also hilly but I felt great on the run until mile 9-10 when my pace slowed, but was I able to fight back and end with a strong finish.
Karen’s time was 5 hrs 18 minutes exactly. Beni Gras-Thompson of the USA won the age group in 4 hr 53 min 54 secs with three women breaking 5 hours in the age group which shows the depth of the age group fields on such a challenging course.
For full results go to http://www.ironman.com