Exciting news comes from the Butterfield Racing camp this week with Nikki Butterfield’s decision to once again compete in the professional triathlon ranks. Nikki will return to a select schedule of racing beginning in late 2014, the highlight of which will be the inaugural Challenge Bahrain on December 6th, where she’ll share the start line with husband Tyler.
While Nikki has been hesitant to answer her competitive calling since the arrival of infant son Walker (now six months), the family’s second child in addition to three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Savana, she’s now eager to do so with a fresh–and far more flexible–approach to training and racing.
“My whole career, I’ve always done what I thought I should do and what other people thought I should do. My program was extremely disciplined and calculated,” said Nikki. “It was the right way to train at the time, but now, in order to return to racing but still keep my family as my first priority, I’m doing things differently. I’m doing what I want. And by that I mean what fits in best with my family and keeps me happy. If I want to run, I run; if I want to play with the kids, that’s what I do. I may not have a balanced program in many people’s eyes, but it’s fluid and flexible and it works with the time I have. I’m a bit nervous about how the reduced training will pan out, but I’m happy and my family is happy–so hopefully that will translate into some solid racing!”
Even with Nikki’s renewed interest in racing, Tyler’s career remains the family’s first priority athletically. The Butterfields’ key focus is preparing him for a top performance at the October Ironman World Championship. Following the race in Kona, the Butterfields will temporarily relocate to Noosa, Australia, allowing them to train in the summer climate and also providing close proximity to Nikki’s family.
“My biggest concern with a return to racing has always been time away from my children,” said Nikki. “For me, the pull to be a full-time parent is strong, but I do still have professional dreams as well. I sort of view this as going back to work part-time–just the right amount for our family. My mum offered to help with the kids, which is what finally made me feel comfortable with the decision. She’s probably one of the only people uniquely equipped to handle Savana’s strong personality, as it mirrors my own as a child! Plus with Walker at such a young age I just feel better knowing he’ll be with family. We’re really fortunate to have her help.”
Nikki’s first race back will be Ironman 70.3 Mandurah (the Australian Pro Championship) on Nov 9th. Tyler may join her, dependent on his Kona result and his KPR standing post-race. The two will then travel together, sans children, to Bahrain for the inaugural Challenge Bahrain. The race marks an exciting opportunity for the pair to experience the renowned Challenge Family event series, and to return to the Middle East, where both earned career highlight victories at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon (Tyler in 2014 and Nikki in 2012).
The Butterfields look forward to spending the Christmas holiday in Australia with Nikki’s family for the first time in a decade, then making the short trip to New Zealand for Ironman 70.3 Auckland (the Asia Pacific Championship) on January 18th. There again, Nikki is confirmed to race, while Tyler’s start will depend on his need for KPR points. Most likely the family will return to the States in late January where both Nikki and Tyler will fine-tune preparations for the 2015 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. However, their time in Australia could be extended to enable Tyler to compete in nearby ITU races in hopes of earning a third Olympic berth (the 2015 ITU schedule has not yet been released). Nikki will reassess her future in the sport in the New Year, taking into consideration a combination of factors, the most important of which are her children’s well-being and her own enjoyment of being back in the mix.
About Butterfield Racing: Butterfield Racing is the husband and wife duo of professional triathletes Tyler and Nikki Butterfield. A native of Bermuda, Tyler’s athletic career has spanned professional cycling as well as triathlon and includes two Olympic bids (2004 & 2012, both in triathlon), three Commonwealth Games appearances (2006 in cycling and 2002 & 2014 in triathlon) and a victory at the highly competitive Abu Dhabi International Triathlon (2014). Tyler is now focused on triathlon’s “holy grail”, the Ironman World Championship, where he finished seventh in 2013. He also hopes to earn a third Olympic opportunity in Rio 2016. Nikki, a U23 Triathlon World Champion (2003), Australian Long Course Champion (2005) and also one-time professional cyclist–the highlight of her cycling career being a World Cup podium (2007)–hails from Australia. She famously returned to sport five months after the birth of the couple’s first child, daughter Savana, quickly claiming both the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse title (2011) and the women’s win in Abu Dhabi (2012). After taking time off to welcome son Walker, Nikki plans a return to racing in late 2014. The Butterfield family makes their home in Boulder, Colorado.