Currie defends - Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship
When the going got tough at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns, Red Bull athlete Braden Currie just got tougher - defending his title and winning by nearly 20 minutes today
Photos: Korupt Vision
Absolutely dominating the Cairns-based Ironman course from start to finish, Currie not only claimed his qualifying spot for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, he showed he will be a force to be reckoned with come the October race.
Last year, Currie set the Ironman world on fire with his 7hours:54mins Cairns course record victory over Javier Gomez. However, today’s win in some of the toughest conditions in many years, is arguably even more impressive. He won his second straight Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship title after battling 30kmh winds on the bike, in a stunning 8hours:04mins:20secs.
“When you get to race like that, it’s a great feeling. I’m just proud,” Wanaka-based Currie said at the finish line interview.
He managed to achieve something that is increasingly elusive in Ironman racing – controlling the field with a 1-1-1 in the three disciplines.
“It’s pretty hard to believe. I wanted to tick my box for Kona here and I thought what’s the easiest way to make sure that happens and that was to win! If I wanted to be in with a good chance for that I needed to send it from start to finish. I’m just stoked to see the progression and where I’m at now.”
Exiting the 3.8km swim first, set the tone for the rest of his day. Conditions were good on the single anti-clockwise loop - with around 300mm of chop coming straight into the beach - and they certainly played into Currie’s hands. The Kiwi emerged from the water first of a bunch of three in 47mins:29secs.
Fellow New Zealander and 2019 Ironman NZ winner Mike Phillips and Australian Luke Bell were hot on his heels, with the trio holding an over 2-minute lead on David Dellow. His Australian compatriot and 2016 event winner Tim van Berkel was 2mins:34secs back.
Early in the 180km bike Currie turned the afterburners on and quickly opened up a 20sec gap on Phillips and Bell. The conditions were overcast and although the athletes enjoyed a tail wind on the out-and-back bike course, once they reached the turn point in Port Douglas they faced an brutal head wind.
Bell crashed out early in the race, leaving Currie to push on to extend his initial advantage to 2-mins at the front from Phillips with 5 mins back to the chasers – Blake Kappler, van Berkel, Dellow and Matt Burton.
Currie clocked up to 55kph downhill and averaged 40kph on the flat as he continued to stretch the lead fighting his way into the head wind. Starting out his successful career as a multisporter and adventure racer has hardened Currie and made him able to thrive in tough situations. He was surprised by the splits, as by the time Australian athlete Burton finished his ride, he was down 9mins:08secs down on Currie, who was already through the 3km mark on the run.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I feel like people probably under-rated my biking over the years. It was great to show I can ride solo and I can hold my own against some of the better guys in the sport and put time into them.”
Running has always been his trademark weapon and despite having no competition in sight, Currie stormed through the run in 2:44:33 finishing a huge 19mins:28secs in front of van Berkel (8:23:48), with Dellow third in 8:32:11.
Winning an Ironman is never an easy feat and Currie explains how it panned out for him on the marathon today.
“The crowds were awesome. It’s never going to be easy even though I had a good solid lead and knew I didn’t have to do anything crazy. It hurt. It hurt a lot. The difference is when you are in a real head battle with someone is that time goes quite fast. When you are out there by yourself, you are just literally watching the clock tick by and its quite painful. It was good to hold strong and still run a good marathon.”
Having his wife Sally, kids Tarn and Bella, plus his parents Karen and Russell on course cheering him on, gave Currie an extra boost.
“I couldn’t be luckier. I was thinking out there on the ride today, I have incredible kids, an incredible wife and parents that support me. I was also thinking of a few good mates that would be so proud of me laying it down and smashing it. They’d have big smiles on their faces. They’d be stoked for me. That means a lot when you are out there hurting. It’s cool to do it for everyone and to keep improving.”
Currie’s next race is the iconic Challenge Roth in Germany on Sunday July 7.
Braden Currie’s times at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns
Swim – 47.29
Bike – 4:28:59
Run – 2:44:33
Total – 8:04:19