By Jean DePlacido
---- — Nathan Buttrick figured as long as he was planning to compete in an Ironman event, he might as well aim high.
The Beverly native will travel to Kona, Hawaii, for the Ironman World Championship on Oct. 13. The former Beverly High track star has enjoyed great success with Half-Ironman Triathlons, but this will be his first full one. It is also the biggest and most famous Ironman event in the world, with a field of around 2,500 participants, many more spectators on hand and one that is televised to the rest of the country.
Since 1977, athletes have been flocking to Hawaii from around the world to take part in the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and then a 26.2-mile marathon run. There are no breaks allowed between the three events that make up an Ironman.
Kona is not for the faint of heart, and Buttrick realizes the challenges he’ll be facing are twice as long as he what he’s used to.
“I know it’s going to be very hot, and I tend not to do as well in the heat,” said Buttrick, a property manager in Boston. “A typical day in Kona is around 90 degrees with a hot wind.
“My goal is to be in the water for an hour. I hope to do the bike ride in four hours and 50 minutes, and run in three hours. That adds up to close to nine hours. I know my goal is lofty.”
Buttrick, who has competed in 10-12 Half-Ironman Triathlons over the last three years, is taking his wife, Mahima, and their two young children along. The family plans to spend 10 days after the Ironman in Hawaii relaxing and enjoying the island.
His first experience with triathlons came a few years ago at his high school friend Kevin Rust’s bachelor party.
“Kevin also ran at Beverly High and had the idea for a group of his friends to go down to the Cape to do a triathlon,” said Buttrick, a 1998 BHS graduate who ran the 800, mile and two-mile for the Panthers and broke school records.
“At the time, I had been running but not racing. That was all it took to get me hooked.”
Buttrick, who ran all fall, winter and spring track at Boston College for four years and captained the cross country team, started working with coach Janda Ricci-Munn of Gloucester 21/2 years ago.
“It’s funny because when I was in high school, Beverly and Gloucester were big track rivals, and I used to race against his younger brother,” Buttrick said. “Working with him has really helped me a lot.”
Most people qualify for the Ironman World Championship by competing in a smaller full Ironman.
Buttrick did it by traveling to Maryland to compete in the Eagleman 70.3 Half-Ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13-mile run), placing 26th overall. Recently at the Timberman 70.3 in Gilford, N.H., he was the top amateur and eighth overall.
He has trained for Kona by running 18-23 miles a week and riding his bike between 100-140 miles over a seven-day stretch.
“There are only four Half-Ironmans in the world where you can qualify for Kona, and Maryland is one of them,” Buttrick said. “Usually, people don’t start with Kona when they decide to do a full Ironman, but I figured if I do one, I want to do the real one. It should be very interesting.
“Swimming is my weakest event by far. Running was always my strongest because of my background, but I’ve been doing a lot of biking and I’d have to say it’s my favorite part. I could be naive, but I think I’m prepared.”
He already has plans to go pro in 2013.
“I hope to pick up some sponsors, which will make it easier,” he said.
“It’s expensive between the equipment, travel and entry fees. Some races are paying well, and as a pro you don’t have the cost of the entry fee, which can be pretty steep.
“I’ve been working hard to get ready for Kona, and I’m definitely looking forward to the experience.”