As Kona debuts go, last year's Big Island bow from Liz Blatchford was one of the most impressive for a long time.
The British-born Aussie came from seemingly nowhere to finish third behind Mirinda Carfrae and Rachel Joyce and with a win at Ironman Cairns sealing her start this year, there's no reason to believe that Blatchford can't repeat this time although, as she admits, the competition is looking pretty stern.
We met up with the Uplace-BMC athlete in Kona yesterday to pick her thoughts on this weekend's race...
220: How are you doing?
I’m doing well. I’m happy, fit, so yeah, now it’s just kind of a waiting game, it feels like time slows down! By the time the race comes I’ll have been here for four weeks. I did that last year and it worked out, so I thought I’d just stick to the same formula.
And you’re based in Australia mostly now, right?
Yep, Gold Coast most of the year and then a few months in Boulder. I got there [Boulder] in June this year and then straight from there to here.
How similar are training conditions in the Gold Coast to the conditions here in Hawaii?
A Gold Coast summer is a lot like here, with really high humidity. Temperatures don’t get really extreme, like low 30s (Celsius) is kind of the hottest it gets but once you add that humidity in it’s, you know, unbearable! So yeah, pretty similar!
Obviously you did incredible well last year on your Kona debut, what are your feelings going into this year’s race?
I was so pleased with last year, I didn’t expect to do that well. I feel like I’m stronger now towards the back end of my bike and potentially running off a little better so I think I’m a better athlete, but I also think the field is stronger this year.
You’ve got all the top 10 from last year and then you add in Daniela [Ryf], Leanda [Cave] who was injured last year, Jodie [Swallow] who didn’t finish last year so there’s a handful of extra girls that are gonna be up there.
I’m stronger, but the field’s stronger. I hope I can get on the podium again and I’m gonna be out there doing whatever I can to make it happen.
You made a really quick and successful transition from short course ITU racing to long course, why do you think that was?
I think, well, I’ve been doing tris a long time and although I’m new to Ironman I’ve been training hard and putting in long miles for a long time. So that’s definitely got something to do with it.
I guess my age [Blatchford is 34] and perhaps the way I race – my coach says I’m a levelheaded racer and not really emotional and I think in Ironman you really need to have a level head.
(Image: Bert Stephani)
You can follow all the race action via our liveblog right here on the 220 website from 5pm UK time on Saturday 11 October – see you there!