Braden Currie demonstrated the ability to dig deep today as he finished the XTERRA World Championships as the first athlete who ‘did the double’- after racing the World IRONMAN Championships only two weeks ago.
The Red Bull endurance athlete was seventh, competing in the ruthlessly steep off-road triathlon on the Hawaiian island of Maui. While it was a picture-perfect day for spectators, no cloud cover meant the athletes sweltered through the bike and run sections in temperatures of up to 35degC and shirt-drenching humidity.
The predicted high swells peaked on Thursday, meaning the 1.5km ocean swim from Kapalua beach had much calmer surf to swim through on the two-lap course than was anticipated. Although Wanaka’s Currie was hoping for rougher conditions, he still had a brilliant swim heading out of the water in the top three with swim specialist Ben Allen, of Australia, and defending XTERRA champion Mauricio Mendez, of Mexico.
The trio set off into the 32km mountain bike climb-fest, with its 1000m of elevation and after an initial burst, Currie settled in amongst the top six riders for the majority of the ride.
“I was one of the first out of the water which felt really good. I got onto the bike and thought I had some legs but 10 to 15 minutes in, I didn’t quite have that top-end power those boys had. I guess I just had to hope I had some endurance, so I stayed strong and tried not to lose any time,” Currie says.
In comparison to last year’s mud-bath, the bike course on the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains was dry and fast, although the intense climbs were not any easier on legs that have been more conditioned to long, consistent distances.
“Maybe there was some IRONMAN fatigue in there, or maybe just the training doesn’t quite suit charging up those hills like I was hoping it would,” Currie says.
He headed out onto the 10.5km trail run in seventh place behind fellow Kiwi Sam Osborne and held onto that position over the undulating forestry course, which finishes with a thigh-destroying sand section. Currie clocked in at 2hours:39minutes:04secs.
“I kept it pretty tight on the run and just did what I could do. I felt like I had a good run but again just not quite that extra 10% and top gear that I would have if I had been training specifically for it,” Currie says.
He offered his congratulations to Rotorua’s Osborne for achieving a sixth place and also to first-time XTERRA winner South Africa’s Bradley Weiss, who won in a time of 2:32:10.
Currie also credited fellow double IRONMAN/XTERRA athlete Ben Hoffman, of the United States, who finished behind Currie today in 12th, in a time of 2:47:08. Although Hoffman recorded a faster IRONMAN time than Currie, who had the mechanical misfortune of a puncture, followed by a penalty.
Hats off to both these phenomenal, professional athletes for backing up the world’s toughest on-road race with its brutal off-road equivalent - all within a fortnight.
“I can’t say that wasn’t fun. It was awesome to be back racing XTERRA and to be back up the front having a battle with the top boys. I’ve got to be stoked to be able to race at world championship level twice in two weeks and be able to mix it up with the fastest XTERRA athletes,” Currie says.
Red Bull endurance athlete Braden Currie charges through the mountain bike course on his Specialized S-Works Epic in the World XTERRA Championships today. PHOTO: MIKE ADRIAN/XTERRA
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Braden Currie’s multisport campaign is made possible with the support of:
Red Bull NZ, Subaru of New Zealand, Macpac, Asics New Zealand, Rhino Rack, Flight Centre Sports and Events, Apex Insurance, Recovery Systems, Cannibal and Bike Sure New Zealand.