Sometimes when you don’t have high expectations the best things happen, right?
Exactly. I mean I was over the moon with second. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I thought on a good day I might be fourth or fifth, and I thought there was also a good chance I might not even get a paycheck. And that’s a hard one, when you’re sitting there two days before the race. I wasn’t taking it as seriously as Kona, but I wasn’t exactly on holiday — I still knew I had a long day ahead of me. Two days before the race I said I’d never do a validation Ironman again, but now I’d go back there in a heartbeat. It’s just nice to have 2014 wrapped up — it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’m qualified for Kona now.
You’ll turn 31 in February, which is still quite young in triathlon terms. You’ve already had a successful and varied athletic career, but on the heels of 2013 it does seem that Ironman is proving to be your best distance. Do you feel that way? Is the best yet to come from Ty Butterfield?
I hope! But I never want to get too ahead of myself. The best I’ve done is seventh in Kona, and in 10 years if that’s the best that ever happens I’ll still walk away with a smile and say I enjoyed it. I do hope to move up — especially having been a little higher up than that during the marathon. I’m not used to going backward in races — normally I’m sort of doing what Ivan or Tim did and catching people in the last few miles. So that was interesting for me because I’m not used to that, but at the same time I was over the moon with seventh. If someone had said before the race that I was going to get seventh I would have been very happy with that. It does seem that Ironman suits me, and I think there’s still room for me to improve in Ironman, so that’s the goal.
What’s on your schedule for 2014?
I’ll do Abu Dhabi — it’s a great race and hopefully I’ll have another good one there. Then I have a few races in Bermuda for fun and for sponsors — and I just love being back there. And then Ironman Nice has said that they’ll help me out, and I’m big on doing the races that offer to help. I also have the Commonwealth Games next year, and Rio 2016 is on my race calendar. I have fully committed training-wise to Ironman for now, but in 2015 and 2016 I might have to do a fair amount of ITU races to get there. A lot of people think it’s silly to try to go to Rio, but it is the Olympics. Bermuda wants me there and they’ll fund me to go. They don’t expect a medal — I mean they’d love one but that’s not realistic. I’ve said I’ll be there if I make it, and that’s all they want. So they’ll support me for the next four years — we have an agreement that I’ll do Ironman for the next two years and then go back and do more ITU.
You’re in a fairly unique situation to be able to represent Bermuda that way.
Yeah — it’s possible, whereas for any other country it wouldn’t be possible. There are too many other young athletes that, as soon as you step up to long course, take your spot in ITU. But right now there’s no one following behind in ITU in Bermuda. They miss that and they get a kick out of the fact that I can do both. They know I’ll always do better place-wise in long course, and there is a possibility I won’t make it to Rio — I don’t want to give anyone false hope. But if you do well in Kona I think it really frees you up to do whatever distance you want. You’re never going to get 100 percent out of yourself in the shorter races when you’re also training for long course, but there’s still a huge cross over effect. I felt that even when I went to the track in Bermuda. It felt really awkward and uncomfortable, but my times weren’t that far off my ITU training times.