Wānaka Sun       

Fourth time lucky for Braden Currie

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 01 Apr, 2021 | By Joanna Perry newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

Wānaka multisport legend Braden Currie beat out his closest competition, Kyle Smith, to win IRONMAN New Zealand in Taupō last weekend.

The world's longest-running IRONMAN, the triathlon on March 27 (postponed from earlier this month due to the rise in Covid-19 alert levels) saw thousands of supporters line the streets to cheer on the competitors over a 3.8km swim in the lake, 180km cycle and 42.2km run. 

Currie and Taupō-based Smith had already gone head-to-head three times this season, with Smith besting Currie each time. Currie finished 4 minutes behind Smith at the Rotorua Suffer event last December, 10 seconds behind at the Tauranga Half in January, and 13 seconds behind at Challenge Wānaka in February. 

But Currie's moment finally arrived on Saturday when he crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 7:57:12 - ahead of Mike Phillips at 08:06:38 and Smith at 08:08:53, placing third in his IRONMAN debut. 

Smith was ahead during the swim leg, but all three athletes came tightly together during the cycle, with Currie pushing strongly ahead into the final run.

Currie said he wanted to avoid a “side by side battle” and not give Phillips and Smith a chance to run with him. 

“I looked at my watch early in the run and was running a 3:05/km pace and at that point I knew I was going to have a really good run, but I told myself I should probably slow down a bit,” said Currie. 

“Full credit to Kyle for sticking in there, he was hanging on tough on the run and good on him for getting it done.”

“I wanted this win and I needed this win and that's what I brought to the start line. The goal now is to make sure I'm ready for the Kona IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaiʻi] when it comes around again.”

In the women's race, two-time Challenge Wānaka Champion Hannah Wells came in first with a time of 09:01:49, followed by Rebecca Clarke and Emily McNaughtan.

Running alongside the IRONMAN NZ event in Taupō was the half-distance 70.3 race, featuring Wānaka freeskier Craig Murray, who signed up for his IRONMAN debut to raise money for charity Boys Alive. 

Murray said he was “stoked” to complete the race in 4:58:44 - ranking him 11th in his division and 73rd overall - despite technical difficulties caused by two flat   tyres, which led him to cycle some 20km to find a tyre pump on a flat wheel. 

“It was hard on the legs,” he recalled, “but it was good in the end. I paced myself on the run to finish the second lap strong.”

Murray said he was also “really grateful” to have raised over $4,600 for Boys Alive, which was well above his goal of $3,000, and that it was “amazing” to see Currie - who, along with Coast to Coast champion Dougal Allan, had provided him with support and advice in the run-up to the event - take the win.

Read edition 1020 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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