After defending his XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship title at the weekend, Wanaka’s Braden Currie will take a month’s break to recharge and reflect on the past five years, that he has spent dedicating to his career as an endurance athlete.
Claiming his ninth XTERRA win on a cool and windy day at Callala Beach in New South Wales, Australia, it was the second consecutive year that Red Bull athlete Currie won XTERRA New Zealand and the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship races on back-to-back weekends.
“It’s a pretty good feeling to come back from the mosh pit of ITU Triathlon racing, where I packed seven races into less than than two months, and put myself through a wringer of emotions,” Currie says.
“I had some good times during that process and each ITU race I still felt like I wanted to race again and I wanted to do more. But after the Gold Coast ITU World Series race, I knew that I had to make a decision moving forward about where I wanted to focus. Off-road is where I started and there is a reason for that. I’m stoked to have had the opportunity to experience and learn as much as I have from ITU racing and I know I am a better athlete for it.”
“I now know where I want to be at the end of this year and I went into Rotorua for the XTERRA NZ Champs and to Australia for the Asia Pacific XTERRA Champs with that key focus. I couldn’t be happier with how smooth the racing was for me the past two weekends and I think that my consistency is a result of the last few months racing ITU. I’m looking forward to tapering the focus this year and putting everything into two key goals,” Currie says.
Saturday’s Asia-Pacific XTERRA win marks the end of five years of solid racing and training for the dedicated Currie.
“I’m just so stoked to finish on a good race before the first dedicated holiday of my career. When you race professionally it doesn’t get much sweeter than that,” Currie says.
It certainly wasn’t an easy last day at the office as the blustery beach swim was so rough getting in and out of the water, race officials changed the swim course from two laps with a beach run in the middle, to just one lap that went with the current. Currie emerged from the water less than one minute behind swim specialists, Australians Ben Allen and Courtney Atkinson.
“That swim was amazing. Probably good for us Kiwis because we can’t swim like Courtney can. It was so rough he couldn’t see where he was going so we could just follow his feet and keep in close contact with him. I knew coming out of the water it was going to be a good day if we were that close to him,” Currie says.
By the midway point on the bike it was a three-man race with Currie and Allen trading leads and New Zealander Sam Osborne never far behind. Up front Currie was showing what kind of a fast, tough athlete he is. Last October he was the runner-up to American athlete Josiah Middaugh at the XTERRA Worlds in Hawaii and became the only other athlete – along with Middaugh – to upset triple world XTERRA champion Ruben Ruzafa, in two years of racing off-road.
After gaining a winning edge on the mountain bike, Currie held the lead over the run to finish in 2hours:11mins:46secs, nearly two minutes ahead of Osborne (2:13:38), with Allen third in 2:14:27.
Currie’s two XTERRA successes over the past fortnight cap off an incredible 12 months where he has become the first Kiwi athlete to win the New Zealand off-road triathlon championships, New Zealand Olympic distance triathlon championships and New Zealand long distance triathlon championships all in the same year.
“I do feel stronger now than I’ve ever been and I’m very passionate and motivated to make off road a big focus for me. Coming second last year has only made me more determined to win at XTERRA worlds this year and the last few months have given me a solid foundation to start building on. It’s going to be a pretty exciting winter, starting fresh with my training in June and having two specific goals in mind – XTERRA World Champ and ITU Cross Tri World Champ,” Currie says.
CAPTION. Red Bull athlete Braden Currie, of Wanaka, won the XTERRA Asia Pacific Championship in Australia at the weekend. PHOTO CREDIT: TREY GARMAN/XTERRA
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