Wānaka-based Ironman athlete Braden Currie has won the Asia-Pacific Championship race emphatically in Cairns, Australia.
Not only does this qualify him for the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, later this year, but in a way it was even more impressive than his record-breaking race at the same venue last year.
In 2018 his time was 7hr, 54min, but this time he had to battle headwinds of up to 30kmph on the bike to achieve a time of 8hr, 4min, 20sec.
“When you get to a race like that, it’s a great feeling. I’m just proud,” he said at the finish line.
Currie also achieved the almost-impossible goal in Ironman racing: he led all three disciplines of swimming, biking and running on June 7.
“It’s pretty hard to believe. I wanted to tick my box for Kona 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,” he said.
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 it certainly played into Currie’s hands. The Kiwi emerged from the water first of a bunch of three in 47min 29sec.
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 two-minute lead on David Dellow. His Australian compatriot and 2016 event winner, Tim van Berkel, was 2min 34sec behind.
Early in the 180km bike section 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 a brutal head wind.