Lamont Marshall and Tyler Butterfield will face one another in next week’s Bermuda Day Half Marathon Derby, only a month after both set new long-distance national records.
Marshall broke his own 10,000 metres record, which had stood for seven years, when he ran 30min 8.21sec at the Mt SAC relays in California. Only days earlier, Butterfield clocked 2hr 26min 29sec in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games marathon to break Ray Swan’s 37-year-old national record.
The head-to-head between the two former derby champions is set to produce a fascinating battle on May 25. The pair last met in the race in 2009 and 2010, and on both occasions Butterfield finished second overall with Marshall third.
Butterfield, 35, won the title in 2013 and 2014, while Marshall was the champion in 2016.
Marshall’s father and coach, Larry, said his son was in the shape of his life.
“He’s been training 80 to 90 miles a week during his base training,” he said. “He’s done a number of 15-mile training runs, and completed an 18-miler last week. He has had ideal preparation for the half-marathon. It all seems to be coming together.”
On four previous occasions, Marshall, 33, has finished the Derby in about 1:12. However, his coach said this year is different, and he feels his son can run a sub 1:10 if all goes well.
He said: “The first objective is to win. He will be going for sub-1:10, which is 5min 20sec/mile pace; that would put him in exclusive company.”
When he set the 10,000 record last month, Marshall held a 4:50 pace for 6¼ miles.
“He feels the first two miles will not be as conservative as normal. To go for sub 1:10, they will have to be quicker.”
Having also set a national record for 5,000 at the beginning of the year, Marshall’s confidence is understandably high.
Butterfield is a confirmed entrant in next week’s race, having been absent from the derby since his 2014 win. “He’s a very good athlete in his own right and is an Olympic triathlete,” Marshall’s coach said. “It is going to come down to strength and speed. Lamont will have the speed moving up from the 10K.”
Marshall and Butterfield have faced one another in races since their high school days.
The coach added: “We will have one eye on Tyler. We have no idea what he is going to do. We are looking at a very fast, competitive race. It will be a case of the three H’s — that’s hills, heat and humidity. Lamont has been training in the humidity and has done the hillwork. He’s confident, irrespective of the conditions.”
Marshall showed he can handle oppressive conditions when he won the 2016 race by a gap of more than four minutes in 1:13:59. That year is considered one of the derby’s hottest in recent times, when the temperature hovered around 76F and the humidity averaged 86 per cent.
Marshall’s participation comes after a positive meeting last week with Gina Tucker, president of the Marathon Derby committee, to clear the air after he previously voiced displeasure about the level of prizes awarded to winners.
After next Friday’s derby, Marshall’s focus will switch to the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta on July 4. Regarded as one of the largest 10K races in the world, it regularly attracts about 60,000 participants. Marshall is looking to break his national record for a 10K road race. He has his sights on a time of 29:30.