After an illustrious racing career that has spanned 24 years, Liz Blatchford has decided to hang up the racing flats, with one final race and a farewell performance at the Noosa Triathlon.
The multiple IRONMAN champion celebrated her long course racing with a recent final performance in Kona but at the Noosa Triathlon she is turning back the clock to revisit her short course career, with one last race over the standard distance.
“In Kona, I stopped on the finish line on Ali’i Drive and walked it and high fived everyone. At that point, I didn’t care about my time and I really took it in because I knew it was going to be the last. I don’t think I will have that luxury in Noosa because everyone is finishing closer together and I don’t want to lose any valuable spots.”
“I am trying to get the body moving after Kona and I tried to do some faster stuff and it was like ‘Oh dear. I am racing some really fast girls this week, this is going to hurt.’ Anyone who raced Kona is going to be feeling the effects three weeks later in Noosa. But it is not going to stop us from having a crack,” she said.
Liz’s grounding was in Nippers and Little Athletics in her hometown of Perth, but it was her first taste of swim, ride, run at age 14 that kick-started her triathlon career. She eventually headed east to the Gold Coast and turned pro at 21, racing on the ITU World Cup circuit before making a dramatic entrance to the world of IRONMAN with a win in Cairns on debut in 2013.
“I really loved my time being an ITU athlete and learned so much and it made me the athlete that I am, but it has been the last 5-6 years as a long course athlete that has provided the real highs of my career. My two Kona podiums (2013 and 2015) are definitely right up there as highlights. It has been an awesome way to spend the last few decades and I have learned so much and met so many great people.”
The biggest highlight in Liz’s life, however, was the birth of baby Mahli 17 months ago, an event that changed her world dramatically.
“I really, really love motherhood, it is the best thing ever and being a mum has been something very special. I could never have imagined it until it happened. My passion for triathlon is second to being Mahli’s mum. When I came back after having Mahli I wasn’t sure how long I would keep racing for, but I knew if I came back it wouldn’t be for too long.”
“I had a major injury, a sacral stress fracture, early this year and it was related to having Mahli and breastfeeding and it was a pretty uncomfortable injury and I couldn’t really do my job as a mum too well. It was painful to pick her up and carry her and that sort of thing and it just hit me that I really didn’t want to be injured to the point where I couldn’t be a mum properly.”
“That injury and the challenge of juggling everything this year between Glen’s work, my racing IRONMAN and having Mahli, meant I needed a time limit. I didn’t resent the big IRONMAN blocks of training and that sort of thing because I always knew there was a shelf limit on my comeback. I definitely missed her and didn’t want to be away from her as much as I had to be, so it was good to know there was an end in sight.”
“At IRONMAN, it is a long day to be away from your bub. I didn’t see Mahli before most of my IRONMAN races this year. You are finishing at three or four in the afternoon and you haven’t seen your bub all day, so it is an awesome thing to see them at the finish line. In a couple of my races I saw Mahli while I was on the run course and it was fun to see her. In Kona she even acknowledged me which was lovely.”
“In Kona this year I was 12th and that is not a result to be ashamed of by any stretch, but it is also difficult to be excited about it when you have been on the podium twice. Even my motivation was starting to slip knowing that, but it was still fantastic coming back after having Mahli and stretching out my awesome career for one more year.”
“Going into Kona I announced that I was going to retire and since then I have had a flood of awesome messages. The support has been great from everyone and enhanced that community feel of triathlon and made me reflect on my career and realise how special it has been. I really embraced that going into Kona and that was a goal race for me and one I was very focused on, whereas Noosa is going to be a bit more fun and I can really enjoy it.”
“Noosa was my first race back after having Mahli. It was fun and given that short course racing is no longer my focus and hasn’t been for a long time I can do the race, take it somewhat seriously but know that it is not my forte. There is not as much pressure and it is a fun weekend. It will be over in two hours, so I can spend the rest of the day partying. Everyone who is anyone goes up and it is an awesome weekend, so I thought it was a good choice as my last race as a pro,” Liz said.