Michael Butter hopes to be the sixth Dutch man to stick to the time limit for the Olympic marathon at the hermetically sealed Twente Airport on Sunday. And that is seven months after announcing his retirement as a professional athlete. “I’m still training like a great athlete, but it’s no longer my priority.”
Good to know
- Fifty athletes will take eight laps on Sunday at the closed airport near his head start. Eliod Kipshog, the world record holder, is the most eye-catching.
- Michael Butter, Roy Hornwij and Muhammad Ali are the Dutch men who want to qualify for the Olympic Marathon.
- The time limit for games is set at 2: 11.30. Five athletes have already fulfilled this requirement, while only three are allowed to go to Tokyo. Abdi Naji alone is sure. The last two places are two points of reference, although time will play an important role.
- For women, Ruth van der Mijden and Bo Amels go for the 2 limit: 28.30. Only Andrea Delstra has walked at that time so far.
He hasn’t trained for weeks in Kenya over the past few months, has slept in an elevated tent for a month, and hasn’t jogged twice a day week after week.
However, the butter feels “super fit”. He believes he could take a big step towards his first Olympic participation on Sunday. “Based on the training, I think I have a real chance to qualify for Tokyo,” Butter says in a conversation with NU.nl.
In September, the 35-year-old North Hollander, who missed the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games by just eight seconds, put another point behind his career. He believed his level was no longer high enough to warrant all sacrifices.
Butter continued to exercise daily, but she walked less often. Two-time Dutch marathon champion joined former professional cyclist Laurens ten Dam cycling group for challenging mountain biking. “It was really cool dune bashing with guys who can pedal quite well. And I’ve noticed I’m a lot fitter than I’ve been in the last couple of years.”
Michael Butter achieved his personal best in 2012 in Amsterdam.
“I became more relaxed”
To his amazement, his running level also remained good, which made him decide to make another attempt to hit the games. But not the same approach as in the past.
“Running was my profession, and the most important thing there was,” said Butter, who finished sixth in the prestigious 2017 New York Marathon. “I feel that in September I put a priority on top of sport and the options that go along with it. Entrepreneurship, social development and my family are now equally important. This balance is very interesting.”
The difference is not in the number of training hours. “I still train as a great athlete, maybe more than some of the other guys who go to games. But I have gotten more relaxed. In the past it was training, sleeping and eating twice a day. Now I go to work after cycling, or do something with my family.” No marathon runners do that like I do now, but I still managed to train well for this race.
Ultra-fast shoes have already set many records in athletics.
Bater runs his first marathon in ultra-fast shoes
This should lead to less than 2 hours 11 minutes 30 seconds on Sunday, which is the maximum for the Tokyo Games. But it actually has to be faster, because five Dutch have already gone through qualifying time: Abdi Nagy (2: 06.17), Khaled Chukud (2: 09.55), Bart van Nunen (2: 10.14), Bjorn Corman (2: 11.07) and Frank. Footscilar (2: 11.30). Only three Dutch men are allowed to start in Japan.
Butter has a simple explanation of fast times: the new ultra-fast shoes that were introduced to athletics after the previous Games. “The maximum depends on the age of those shoes, while there has been an evolution that makes walking minutes faster.”
“If you look at the international rankings, relatively speaking, the Dutch are not necessarily faster than they used to be. But it is of course great that many men have reached the limit.
Butter, whose personal best performance in 2012 was 2: 09.58, will be running a marathon for the first time on Nike’s Vaporfly’s on Sunday. “It will also save minutes for me, but now I’m not at the level of 2012. I won’t run 2:06, but I think 2: 10.14 is possible.”
The NN Mission Marathon begins at Twente Airport on Sundays at 8.30am.