Lafayette man, 66, to enter 10th Ironman World Championship |

Lafayette man, 66, to enter 10th Ironman World Championship

John Aguilar
The Boulder Camera
The Boulder Camera/Mark Leffingwell
DC | Daily Camera

Simon Butterworth took first place in his age group in the Ironman Cozumel triathlon last month and came in second among athletes his age in the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in October.

The Lafayette retiree plans to do it all over again next year, with his 10th Ironman World Championship entry.

Not bad for a guy who was born while President Harry Truman was still in the White House.

“It’s physically not the smartest thing to do to your body at any age, but especially when you’re older,” said the 66-year-old Lafayette Recreation Center swim coach, referring to the grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile ride and 26.2-mile run that make up the Ironman triathlon. “There are plenty of shorter races that are better for your health.”

But that admonition doesn’t apply to Butterworth, who has competed in 15 Ironman triathlons, starting with Lake Placid, N.Y., in 2001. He came in second in his 50-54 age group that year, at just under 12 hours.

In Kona in October, he registered a time of 12 hours 38 minutes.

“I’m certainly not as fast as I was 12 years ago since I did the first one,” said Butterworth, who has called Lafayette and Louisville home for six years.

Barry Siff, a well-known Boulder triathlete himself who has competed four times at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii and has trained with Butterworth for years, said his friend is nothing short of “amazing.”

“I have to work really hard to stay with him on the bike,” said Siff, 57. “He gets everything out of that 66-year-old body. I’m always learning from him.”

And Butterworth is also no hothead when it comes to displaying his phenomenal athleticism to those around him, Siff said.

“He’s humble, he’s articulate, he’s a gentleman,” he said.

Butterworth, who grew up in Ireland, said he was inspired to pursue sports by his father, who lost his leg.

“He still swam, he played baseball, he was as active as he could be,” he said.

Butterworth turned to triathlons in the early 1990s, when he was inspired by something a bit more visceral. In Germany, his wife’s native country, he saw a group of naked athletes running out of the water and onto the beach, in the process of changing out of their swim trunks and into their bike clothes.

“Hmmm, this looks like a fun sport,” he recalls telling himself.

Butterworth was in his 40s, a software developer and staring a midlife crisis right in the face. He started with shorter triathlons before working his way up to the Ironman a decade later.

The sport demands a lot of his time. Butterworth said during the months leading up to a race, he spends 20 or more hours a week either biking, running or swimming.

“The excuse I tell my wife is that it’s better than hanging out in bars,” Butterworth said.

He also keeps himself busy coaching the master’s swim team at the Bob Burger Recreation Center in Lafayette and coaching with Boulder-based D3 Multisport, where he trains other athletes with lofty triathlon ambitions.

As for how much pep he has left in his step, Butterworth said there are octogenarians still strapping on race bibs at triathlons all over the globe. Does he hope to win the 80 and over age group one day?

“If I’m lucky enough, if I’m healthy enough – yes,” he said.

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