Racing on home turf certainly suits him, as local legend Red Bull endurance athlete Braden Currie did the double, backing up his 2019 Challenge Wanaka win today.
Three weeks out from IRONMAN New Zealand, the half-distance race in Lake Wanaka, out on the scenic Southern Lakes roads and around the Wanaka township, was the perfect build-up for Currie. He finished in hours:59mins:48secs, comfortably running down Australian pro Matt Burton (4:02:37) and fellow Kiwi Mike Phillips (4:03:31).
While the 1.9km swim took place in ideal conditions, with Lake Wanaka mirror flat, the heat quickly got turned up by the top athletes on the 90km bike.
“I feel like I’m in pretty good form, had a solid swim and was feeling comfortable. Joe [Skipper]is a is a phenomenal rider and he was out to attack but even when he got past me, he didn’t make a huge amount of time on me over the last 30 kilometres,” Currie says of one of his main rivals.
“Mike [Phillips] threw everything he had at the bike. He’s coming back from injury so it was going to be interesting to see if he could hold his pace on the run. I had a bit of a deficit to Mike and Joe at the end of the bike, but I felt confident in my run form. “Currie, who finished 7th at the 2019 World Ironman Championships in Kona, adds.
As is usually the case, Currie turned on the after-burners throughout the 21.1km run and smoked on by the early leaders.
“I was hurting but managed to run the first few kilometres at 3min.15sec/3min.10sec per kilometre pace. I sent it really hard! I caught Joe and Matty pretty quick and then all of a sudden I’d taken 3 minutes out of Mike and I knew I was going to catch him.”
“The run went really well and I was sitting at 3mins.30secs to 3mins.40secs pace. I eased off at the 8km mark once I got into the lead,” Currie says of conserving his energy for the longer distance race in Taupo on March 7.
“Three weeks out from Ironman NZ, my endurance is definitely there and my riding was on track for Ironman power,” Currie says.
The benefits of racing around his hometown today were apparent as he blitzed the course for the second consecutive year.
“The local support on this course is phenomenal these days. It’s amazing how
many people I saw out there and people I know really well, cheering me on.
The other highlight
was having my daughter Bella and son Tarn there at the finish line,” Currie