Triathlete ProFile: Liz Blatchford

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Feb 7, 2014
  • Updated Mar 9, 2016 at 4:02 PM UTC
Blatchford on the bike in Kona. Photo: John David Becker

TM: You went into Kona somewhat under the radar. Was that helpful in your pre-race preparation?

LB: I was definitely very much under the radar and I didn’t mind it. I didn’t expect any media–compared to the girls that were racing I hadn’t done anything yet. I think you don’t deserve the media until you’ve done something. So I had nothing the whole week before and I thought: This is great. This is to my advantage. I get to relax and prepare how I want. The one and only media commitment I did have was a radio interview on my phone. My parents had just arrived that day so I said, “I’ve got to do this radio interview, Mum and Dad, and after that we can go get some lunch.” So they waited around, and finally the call came–my one and only media commitment–and the caller said, “So sorry Liz, the program’s run over.” I think they had the other British girls on, Rachel and Leanda, and the program had run over, so they said, “We don’t have time for you.” And I was like, “Uh, Mum and Dad. We can go to lunch now.”

TM: What are some other iron-distance races that appeal to you, now that it’s your “thing”?

LB: It feels funny because it was only four months before Kona that I did Cairns, and even the day before the race I was still overwhelmed by Ironman and thinking how far it is. I think even now I still haven’t grasped that I am an Ironman–that it’s my stuff, it’s what I do. But Kona’s definitely my main goal for the next few years. Roth also has some appeal–I’ve heard only good things about that race. And I’m looking at potentially doing an early Ironman in 2014. I haven’t really decided yet but there are some good options out there.

TM: Let’s talk about Glen. How did you guys meet and what was your first date?

LB: We met at a mutual friend’s party. He was living in Melbourne and I was living on the Gold Coast, but he used to do kayak paddling and he was on a training camp with the Australian Institute of Sport. It was a dress up party and he was dressed as Monkey Magic and I was dressed as Roller Girl! For our first date Glen and I went to a Thai restaurant for dinner. I managed to pick out the chili from my dish and later rub my eye, so I wasn’t quite crying but my eye was really watering. I was winking at him a lot, so I think he thought he was in!

TM: Glen travels with you during the race season and works as a beach lifeguard when you’re both home during the Australian summer. He’s your number one support and an integral part of your team. If you were to give him a job description, what would it be?

LB: It’s quite a list! I think being the husband as well, there’s no end to what I actually ask him to do. If it was my coach or somebody else, there are things I would feel a bit too bad about asking them to do, but being my husband–never! He’s a training partner at times, definitely the bike packer, definitely involved with my equipment maintenance and selection and that sort of thing. He gives a pretty good massage when I force that one out of him. He cooks for me every night pretty much, he does the grocery shopping–he’s my everything, really. I’m pretty spoiled. Especially when it comes to carrying the bags. The few times I’ve had to travel without him I’ve been like: Ooh, sore shoulders! [Giggling] And he just knows me so well and knows every aspect of my racing and what I’ve been through over the years. He’s really good at suggesting the races he thinks will suit me. He actually looks at who’s racing and gives me a run down on what all the girls’ strengths are–especially as I moved into Ironman and didn’t really know anyone. It’s not really my thing to research people, but when I’m out training he’ll look online and look at people’s times and tell me what they’re good at so I can be ready!

LB: What are you like in the lead up to a big race–are you calm and relaxed, stressed, high maintenance, or what?

LB: I probably vary between all of the above. Glen’s pretty good at calming me and does as much for me as he can so that life isn’t stressful. But I can be stressed. I think before Kona I didn’t have any expectations of myself–and I don’t think anyone really had any expectations of me either–so that helped leading into that race. But in saying that, being a competitive athlete I naturally want to do well. So I take it seriously, but I also realize that taking yourself too seriously can be detrimental. It’s kind of a fine line, but I’ve been doing triathlon a long time so I know what I need to do to keep myself calm, but also be the best prepared I can be. I probably do get a little high strung at times, but I’m not terrible!

TM: Your ITU career lasted 11 years. Now you’ve launched into a new phase of your triathlon career, so where do you see yourself another 10 or 11 years down the road?

LB: I’m 33 now, so I definitely don’t think I’ll be racing in 10 or 11 years. I mean I totally respect Natascha Badmann–I think that’s absolutely incredible what she does–but it’s definitely not for me. So I would probably be retired by then and hopefully have some kids running around. I have a few ideas of what I want to do after triathlon. I’m considering becoming a schoolteacher, or maybe dong some coaching, but I haven’t exactly decided. But we’ll be living in Australia, close to the beach, and spending some of my spare time surfing.

TM: When your triathlon career is totally wrapped up, how would you like people to describe you? In other words, what sort of legacy do you hope to leave as an athlete?

LB: As much as I’d like people to respect me for what I’ve done on the field and my results, I’d like people to think I’m–it sounds a bit typical, but a good person. A fair competitor and someone who’s a decent role model. Crowie, I think, is an absolute prime example of that. If I could be anything like him, not necessarily in terms of athletic achievement but in the way he represents himself and goes about things, I would love that. I aspire to be like that.

TM: When you were a wee little Liz, what did you imagine being when you grew up?

LB: I’ve kind of always wanted to be an athlete. I got into pool swimming when I was young. I was OK, but I was never particularly good at it–never national level or anything. But I remember in grade six in school when the teacher asked everyone, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I had just started swimming and I said, “I want to be a swimmer, like Kieren Perkins,” because at that time he was world champ or Olympic champ. And the teacher said, “Don’t be silly. Get a real answer.” I was so put out! I remember it to this day.

TM: Do you have any superstitions or good luck charms?

LB: When I was a kid racing surf lifesaving, I used to make lucky slippers. They’d get all of us together on the beach and we’d have to sit for 5-10 minutes before our event, so my best friend and I would make little mounds around our feet with sand and smooth them out. We’d write “Good Luck” or something inspirational on the little mounds and call them our lucky slippers. We’d do it before every event–and when you do these carnivals as a kid you’re doing 10+ events a day! I’ve actually done it a few times over my triathlon career when there’s some sand around. I’ll just make a quick little mound, probably when no one’s looking, and ask for good luck.

TM: Did you do it in Kona?

LB: No–I was kind of late getting into the swim so I didn’t actually do it.

TM: And yet you still had a lucky day! Congratulations on an incredible start to your Ironman career and we look forward to watching what comes next for you.

LB: Thank you!

[Excerpts from this interview appear in the February 2014 issue of Triathlete.]

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