The road to Kona - Interview with Liz Blatchford

Vifit Sport is a proud partner of the BMC-Vifit Sport pro triathlon team. Seven out of eight athletes of the team qualified for the Ironman world championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. We spoke the athletes about their preparations and expectations for the race.

You have been on the podium twice in Kona! What do you like the most about this race?

“There’s a lot I like about Kona. Probably the most significant being the location and everything that comes with that - the heat, humidity and ocean swim. The hype of the event also captivates me and brings the best out of me on the race day and in the training leading in.”

Did you have a special strategy in qualifying for Kona this year?

“My strategy had to be adapted. I originally planned to race Ironman New Zealand early in 2018 and then top up my points with a second Ironman in Cairns in June. However, when I suffered a sacral stress fracture in January I had to push those Ironman races back to the Philippines in June and then Ironman Tremblant in August, the final qualifying race.”

What is your objective for this year and how did you prepare for it?

“After the way my year started I honestly feel lucky to be on the start line. In some ways it relieves the pressure. But, I am still focused for my best possible race in Kona and I feel I am capable of a top 10 if things are going decently and possibly better if I have a great day. After I qualified in Tremblant I took a few recovery weeks and then put in a solid four week training block in Boulder, Colorado before hitting the island for taper time.”

After a fabulous career as a professional athlete, you’ve taken the decision to end your career: will you entirely disconnect from triathlon or still somehow continue training?

“I will definitely always be active. Exercise is my ‘normal’ after 18 years of being a professional athlete. However, it will be a lot more low key, probably not more than an hour or two per day and probably involve some more ‘fun’ activities like surfing and possibly team sports. I imagine I’ll stay involved in triathlon through coaching and commentary as well.”

What advice would you give to any women aiming to race their first Ironman?

“This wouldn't be specific to women, but I would say surround yourself in a motivating environment. This might mean a local tri club, cycling, swimming or running group or just a few training buddies. The journey and community of getting to an Ironman start line is such a big part of it.”

How nervous do you think you will be at D-day on a scale of 0 – 10?

“6! I always get race nerves, even after 18 years of professional racing. I believe it means I care. However, I've learnt to control and harness the nervous energy.”

What is the first thing you think you will do when you finish?

“Find my husband, daughter, mum and sister who will all be at the finish and have a giant (probably teary) hug!”

What is the first thing you think you will eat after your performance?

“I often crave a burger and a beer post-race.”

Who is the first person you think you will call after the race?

“Probably my dad. A lot of my immediate family will be there, but dad won’t.”

Do you reward yourself after such a performance and if so, what is your ultimate reward?

“Generally, a holiday is my ultimate reward after an Ironman. This year we have a whole week in the Hawaiian Islands to relax and explore. We plan to visit Kuai.”