Last Saturday 13th October I was privileged to once again be in Kona for one of the most iconic sporting events of the year, the Ironman World Championships, to support Karen Smith and Tyler Butterfield.
Leading up to these championships Tyler had produced some solid results which must have given him confidence going into this year’s event. Tyler exited the 4km swim in 50 mins 27 secs and was well positioned on the bike with a group of strong cyclists towards the front of the race.
Holding the pace with the group of athletes around you is critical in this event but there is a fine line between riding in a group and being penalised for drafting. Often marshalls will pick riders from a group fairly randomly when others in the group are also drafting. In the end Tyler was oe of three in his group that got penalised 5 minutes and crotically that penalty has to be served out on the bike course which meant that Tyler lost touch with the group. That meant that realistically his chances of a top 10 finish were gone and despite a very respectable ride of 4 hrs 31 mins 27 secs bike time it did not match the times between 4 hr 16 and 4 hr 20 of the group.
Tyler looked very relaxed on the run ( chatting with spectators and other competitors) and (although he might dispute this) looked like had he been in the mix for a top ten finish of the bike that he could have produced an even faster run than the 3hrs 3 mins 58 secs. In the end his time of 8 hrs 30 mins 38 secs ( 29th male professional) left me wondering what might have been had he not incurred that bike penalty.
I hope that Tyler feels that he has some unfinished business in Kona.