Claiming his second half ironman win in a month, Wanaka’s Braden Currie is the National Half-Ironman Champion for the second year running, after his victory in the Port of Tauranga Half today.
Once again convincingly beating home a strong field of contenders, Red Bull athlete Currie finished the 2km swim, 90km road bike and 21.1km run in 3hours:52mins:26secs. He held off professional Waiuku triathlete Mark Bowstead (3:54:00) and eleven-time winner of Ironman New Zealand and 10-time winner of this event, Cameron Brown (3:55:06) in what is known as one of the oldest and most prestigious races on the New Zealand triathlon calendar.
“I’m stoked to have collected this title again and to have ticked off the half-ironman distance section of my racing this year. Winning the Taupo 70.3 in December and then having this result today is awesome but I’m looking forward to focusing on shorter distance racing now,” Currie says.
Currie was first Kiwi home in the Tauranga event last year earning himself the title of National Half-Ironman Champion – despite finishing just over a minute behind Australian two-time Half Ironman World ChampionCraig Alexander. Taking the overall win this year boosted the rewarding feel-good factor as Currie prepares to now go all-out to gain selection for the New Zealand triathlon team for the Rio Olympics.
He had a good start in the swim today but fell off the pace near the end to complete it in 24mins:09secs. One of his main rvials, Bowstead exited the water in Mt Maunganui’s Pilot Bay 30 seconds ahead, leaving Currie feeling nervous going into the bike transition due to Bowstead’s renowned “time trialling abilities.”
“I did everything I could to keep the gap to him to a minimum and although he opened up two minutes on me in the first half of the bike, the second half he only pulled away by another 30 seconds,” Currie says.
Bowstead hammered out the fastest bike time of the day in 2hours:08mins:05secs but once Currie found his legs on the run, the split times showed he was gaining on the leader. About half-way though the run, Currie passed Bowstead and had put 1min:34secs on him by the finish line.
Although today’s race does not count Olympic qualification, Currie will get his first chance to get some points on the board at next month’s Kinloch OTU Sprint Triathlon Oceania Cup. Although the race is half the distance of an Olympic event, it will give Currie the chance to measure himself against a solid field, which will include New Zealand Olympic triathlon team member Ryan Sissons.
Currie (29) has made New Zealand Olympic Committee’s long list for the Olympics, which was a boost after his recent decision to switch his focus to on-road competition. For the three-time Coast to Coast champion and 2015 World XTERRA Championship runner-up, it means a change in racing disciplines, training programme and intensity.
Currie needs two top-eight finishes in world series events between now and June to qualify. There is room for two New Zealand males to be starting world series races, unless Tri NZ applies for wild cards, and then the wild card recipient is potentially the third athlete on the list, which is Sam Ward or Currie.
Currie demonstrated in December that he was transitioning well to on-road racing when he won the Taupo 70.3, 50secs clear of second-placed Callum Millward.
Coached by Cambridge-based Tim Brazier, Currie is now looking forward to the New Zealand triathlon team spending three weeks in his Wanaka home town on a training camp.
“It will be really beneficial for my racing to be able to train with these guys and have the support of my coach as I do some of harder sessions,” Currie says.
His new programme for the 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run Olympic triathlon distance means he will be moving into the speed and intensity phase of his training as waits to see where and if he gets starts.
He is hoping to make the start line at the world cup event in New Plymouth on April 2 and a world series event on Australia’s Gold Coast the following weekend but is prepared to fly to Japan, South Africa or Abu Dhabi if that is what it takes to make his Olympic dream viable.
“I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone out there for their support,” Currie says.
CAPTION Red Bull athlete Braden Currie, of Wanaka, wins the Port of Tauranga Half today. PHOTO CREDIT: TRACY HARDY.
Braden Currie’s up-coming calendar
14th Feb – Kinloch OTU Sprint Triathlon Oceania Cup
12th March ITU Mooloolaba World Cup.
19th March: Oceania Champs Gisborne Olympic Distance
2nd April New Plymouth Sprint Distance World Cup, or ASIA Pacific XTERRA Champs.
16th April NZ XTERRA Rotorua/NZ XTERRA Championships
22nd April Cape Town World Series Sprint Distance.
16th May Yokohama World Series Olympic Distance
August: Olympics if he makes it.
30th October XTERRA World Championships Maui
19th November ITU World Cross Tri Championships ACT Australia
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Braden Currie’s multisport campaign is made possible with the support of
Flight Centre Active Travel, Subaru of New Zealand, Specialized, 2XU and Red Bull