Red Bull athlete Braden Currie has kick-started his summer of racing with a tenacious success – defending his Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo title yesterday.
Wanaka-based Currie sprinted through the finish flags in 3:52:44 - some 33 seconds clear of runner-up and fellow Kiwi Mike Phillips. A trademark run enabled Currie, who sat fifth at the end of the bike leg, to clinch the eye-catching victory.
It was a particularly satisfying win for Currie as he prepares for a packed summer of racing and he has plenty of positives – including fastest swim, fourth fastest bike split and fastest run time - to take forward.
“I was pretty happy to to have taken the win today and it sets me up well for the months ahead. I’m looking forward to getting into some more consistent training building towards Port of Tauranga Half in January,” he says.
Currie’s race started well in Lake Taupo with the 1.9km swim and he found himself leading the pro field.
“I managed to swim side by side with another athlete and we kept ourselves in front and then I put in a burst to be first out of the water,” he says.
Currie was pleasantly surprised by the swim result. He hasn’t been in the pool for nearly two weeks due to the risk of infection to the deep wound on his left hip, incurred when he hit the tarmac at about 50kmh, after his time trial bike slipped out on wet paint.
Heading out on the 90km bike, Currie took off at the start and then settled into a “cool and calm pace.”
“I hadn’t spent much time on the time trial bike as I’ve been racing XTERRA on my mountain bike lately and I didn’t want to completely destroy myself,” he says.
Fellow Kiwi Mark Bowstead assumed the advantage on the bike to open up a 1min:35secs lead from a three-strong group containing Christchurch’s Mike Phillips, American Drew Scott and Australian Lachlan Kerin. Currie had dropped back to fifth overall some 3min:12secs down, although he still managed the fourth fastest bike split of the day.
However, Currie, a gifted multisport athlete and reigning XTERRA Asia Pacific champion and a three-time winner of the Coast to Coast, is an outstanding runner and he refused to panic.
By quarter distance on the run he had hauled himself up to third within 38secs of the leader, Phillips, and after hitting the front just before halfway he strode out to victory.
“I managed to pull off a pretty fast lap [of the 21.1km] run and then I caught Mike and we had a bit of a battle. I managed to bridge a gap on him and I thought I had it in the bag. I thought I was running well and he would be happy to sit there but he wasn’t and it was a bit surprise to see him run up beside me. I took my time and then put down the hammer 5km out and knew I had to hang on,” Currie says.
He recorded the race’s fastest run time of 1hour.14mins.43secs which is close to his quickest-ever 70.3 run.
Currie was ecstatic about the result especially considering his time trial fitness wasn’t the best. He did however, have the psychological advantage of being on his brand-new blue and pink Specialized S-Works time trial bike, which he received this week after his other Specialized bike was destroyed in his accident two weeks ago.
Currie’s win today caps off what has been a tough but ultimately successful year. Only eight months ago he was vying for Olympic selection in ITU and his busy calendar has seen him amass a number of titles.
He is the current national Olympic distance triathlon champion; Long distance triathlon champion and 2016 Asia Pacific XTERRA champion. Currie was second in the XTERRA Pan-America Championships; third in the ITU Off-road triathlon championships and fourth in the Asia Pacific 70.3 Championships.
This summer Currie will compete in the Port of Tauranga Half and Red Bull Defiance in January and then return to the Coast to Coast in February with a fourth title in his sights. He is also considering testing himself over the full distance at Ironman New Zealand in March
CAPTION. Red Bull athlete Braden Currie, of Wanaka, grabs the winner’s tape at the finish line of the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo title today.PHOTO CREDIT: Darryl Carey.
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