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Mon 25th Mar 2019
© Shiggy Ichinoymiya @GoShiggyGo /
Emma-Kate Lidbury: Brit Abroad
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Monday 27th January 2014

Tags  Eccles  |  EK  |  Emma-Kate Lidbury

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One year ago, British Middle and Long distance triathlete Emma-Kate Lidbury ( made a big change to her life, moving to and living in the USA. One year on, " it was the best move I ever made" is her assessment of a risk that has certainly worked well for her. 2013 was another strong year for EK, who now has six career Ironman 70.3 victories on her CV, adding Texas and Kansas last season. Now fully settled in Los Angeles, finally cracking the podium at the 70.3 World Championships is her goal this year.

But not only that though, as 'Eccles' - as she has become known since her move across the Atlantic - confirms that 2014 is the year that she will finally race Ironman, with a Kona 2015 campaign fully in her plans.

It seems like ages since we last caught up EK (June 2012 interview), and a fair bit has happened since then. Pretty much a year ago to the day you departed the UK for the sun of the USA. A pretty big move – one year on, how do you assess that change has worked out for you on both a personal and sporting level?

Quite simply, it was the best move I ever made. At the time it felt like a big risk – a jump outside of my comfort zone into the unknown – but with big risks often come even bigger rewards and that is exactly the case here. I had originally planned to stay in Los Angeles until the weather warmed up in Boulder and then relocate there, but after a few weeks in LA I knew there was no better place for me. This is home now. The friends I have made, the “family” I have here and the terrific support network, the training opportunities and the climate – they all combine to make something very special. I could not be happier, in my sporting life and my personal life.

What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome – as I'm sure aside from all of the great weather and super training, it's not all roses making such a switch and lots of adjustments to make. Dislocating your shoulder wasn't the ideal start to your for example!

I expected to be homesick and to miss my family and the UK a great deal, but to be completely honest I didn't experience this at all (sorry to everyone back in Blighty!). I am extremely fortunate here to be coached and mentored by Matt Dixon, of purplepatch, and Gerry Rodrigues and these two wise old owls have had my back since Day One. Although Matt is in San Francisco, we have daily contact and Gerry is here in LA where I swim with his Tower 26 programme six times a week. In short, many of the challenges I expected to face were seriously mitigated by Matt, Gerry and the extensive support network that is Tower 26. It is a terrific group of people who have become like a second family to me. Of course, there were challenges – getting a visa, being far from my family when they needed me, learning to be more self sufficient – but ultimately these things have made me stronger.

With Matt Dixon ©Shiggy Ichinoymiya @GoShiggyGo
©Shiggy Ichinoymiya @GoShiggyGo /

Dislocating my shoulder was certainly not a highlight, but even that taught me a great deal about my body's weaknesses – and two weeks later I won 70.3 Texas, so it was not without its silver lining.

Another two 70.3 wins in Texas and Kansas (that's now six in total), plus second at Raleigh were the highpoints of your racing year. Aside from proving you overcame the shoulder issue, it must be pleasing to keep building that CV – how satisfying were those events for you?

They were hugely satisfying, Texas especially so. Prior to dislocating my shoulder I had planned to race 70.3 Oceanside. Texas wasn't even on my calendar. My Oceanside preparation had been impeccable – I was really reaping the rewards of the Californian winter training – so Matt and I were hugely excited about what I could do in Oceanside. The dislocation was therefore a double blow: the injury itself and the Oceanside DNS. But I soon let it fuel me to greater things in Texas. And it taught me to trust the team around me. Gerry got in the water and swam with me 48 hours after the dislocation (albeit I swam one-armed!). To begin with I thought it was madness. Then I learned to trust my coaches' knowledge and expertise. It worked. Texas went on to be one of the best performances of my career so far. It really proved to me what I am capable of – physically and mentally. I impressed myself.

With Gerry  Rodrigues ©Shiggy Ichinoymiya @GoShiggyGo
©Shiggy Ichinoymiya @GoShiggyGo /

Kansas was another strong race. Winning is obviously great to keep building the CV, building the profile, building my brand, gaining valuable experience. It is all part of the journey towards fulfilling my potential and being the very best athlete I can be. These races helped set up my year and turned heads. I've succeeded in signing some great sponsorship deals for 2014 and beyond which I'm very excited about. I recently signed with Felt Bicycles and Osmo Nutrition.

How has being a ‘Brit in the U.S.' impacted you in terms of sponsors and media? You announced a partnership with a US company mid-season which must have been a big plus – how has your work with Anthem panned out?

I love being a Brit in the US. As much as I obviously love being here, I will always be a Brit. You can take the girl out of Blighty but there's no taking Blighty out of this girl! Of course, I am royally mocked for my accent by my training partners, but I will always stay true to my roots. I've also acquired a very English nickname – Eccles (after the cakes) – which helps mark me out as a transplant. Expect to see that on my kit this year – no more EK!

From a sponsors and media point of view, the US is where professional Ironman/70.3 racers need to be in order to maximise racing and commercial opportunities. This is where the sport is biggest and where the sponsorship opportunities are the greatest.

At the end of 2012 I unexpectedly lost my title sponsor so when I moved to the US in early 2013 I was obviously keen to build a new partnership. Teaming up with Anthem Media Group was terrific and remains so. They launched an Employee Wellness Programme last year, which I am involved in, and that involves me tapping into both my athlete and journalist skill sets. I look forward to continuing to work with them. I'm also very pleased to continue working with the two UK companies who have supported me since I was an age grouper, Morris Owen Chartered Accountants and Virtua UK, both based in Swindon.

On the beach ©Shiggy Ichinoymiya @GoShiggyGo
©Shiggy Ichinoymiya @GoShiggyGo /

With all of the ‘good' stuff race wise, how frustrating is the 70.3 World Championships event becoming for you?! You've been 10th, 8th, 13th and 14th (2013) – with a few issues along the way I know - when I'm guessing you must feel that on a good day you are certainly a podium contender – talk us through Vegas last year.

I am certainly a podium contender at this race, so yes, it has been a frustrating and painful one for me. My training and preparation going in to last year's race was formidable. I was truly very excited about what I might achieve and so was the team around me. Come race day, though, everything that could go wrong went wrong. I made some foolish mistakes. I suffered for them, but I ultimately learned a great deal from that day. I am confident that will show in my racing this season.

Talking about venues, the 70.3 World Champs is now moving around the world each year, are you a fan of that? Have you looked at what the Mont Tremblant course will offer this year?

Yes, I'm a huge fan of the idea. Different athletes have different strengths and weaknesses so I think it will make it far more interesting to change it up. I have assessed and analysed the Mont Tremblant course and am excited about racing there; I think it will be a strong biker's course – and we know I'm a strong biker :-)

Whenever we've spoken before, you've always talked along the lines of "I'll consider Ironman when I'm feel I've achieved what I'm capable of at 70.3 distance." Is that still the case? Is Ironman still in the plans… some day?

Well, how's this for a exclusive: I will be racing Ironman this year. I'll be upping my game with an end of season Ironman, some time after 70.3 Worlds. When Matt and I were evaluating 2013 he suggested it for 2014 and for once I didn't try to (a) hit him (b) swear at him or (c) tell him to keep taking his medication. All joking aside, I think we both see it's where I could be greatest. Before, I was always a little afraid of Ironman. Perhaps, in truth, I did not have the confidence to tackle it. But that has changed, I do now. It is officially on my race calendar and, all things being equal, I'll 'go long' later this season.

70.3 Texas

What are you race plans for 2014? You did the Abu Dhabi event a couple of times in the past – any plans to return?

I enjoyed the Abu Dhabi race both times I did it, but for me it's now a long way from home. I will only be racing in the US this year: I plan to kick off with 70.3 Texas then 70.3 St George, Kansas City Tri – which is an AMG event, Escape from Alcatraz, 70.3 Mont Tremblant, 70.3 Vineman, 70.3 Worlds and then an Ironman at the back end of the year. I'm excited! There are a few of my favourites from last year in there plus a few new ones.

You spent quite a bit of time over the years training with Rachel Joyce – seeing her perform so well at Kona must have been inspiring for you, any thoughts of racing there yourself soon?

Rachel is a great friend and training with her so often in 2011 and 2012 really taught me a great deal. She is a consummate professional who works so hard, so to see her leading the race in Kona for so long was extraordinary - but far from surprising. I honestly thought she would win. As for inspirational? Yes, of course, without a doubt. RJ has long been a source of great friendship, entertainment and inspiration for me – and is the only other person I know with a similarly crazy addiction to coffee and chocolate :-)

As for Kona, there is not a professional triathlete on the planet – short or long course, I dare say – who does not dream of competing and succeeding in Hawaii. I plan to launch a 2015 Kona campaign. You heard it here first!

Anything else interesting in the Lidbury life we should know about?

With Jim FeltI am thrilled and excited to have recently signed with Felt Bicycles. I raced on the DA1 in 2012 and 2013 and absolutely loved it. I got to know Jim Felt and his team over the past year and am seriously impressed with their approach, work ethic, guidance and, of course, their bikes. Being a part of the Felt family is going to be huge for my riding - and racing on the new IA is going to be epic.

I will also be working with a new nutrition partner this year – Osmo Nutrition ( – which was co-founded by Dr Stacy Sims, a leading physiologist and nutrition scientist. Osmo is the only exercise drink which specifically addresses the different needs of male and female athletes. Working with Stacy and learning about how women's nutrition needs are so different to men's has been a real eye-opener. In the past, women have only been able to use products that are developed and based on research of male athletes, but, as the Osmo motto goes – women are not small men. Our needs vary hugely. I've already noticed a difference in training from using Osmo's three female-specific products. Osmo will be launching in the UK at the end of February – so look out for it, I'm a big fan.

To find out more about Eccles, you can visit her website at and follow her on Twitter @eklidbury.

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