[Editor's note—Pro triathlete Braden Currie continued his 2021 racing season with a an incredible win at one of the biggest events in his home nation: Ironman New Zealand. We're proud to present his race report below. (Photo: Graeme Murray)]
Thousands of spectators lined the gates of the 2021 Ironman New Zealand home stretch in Taupo in anticipation of the results. In an event where, each year, the bar continues to be raised making it more competitive and tougher for athletes on the field, it’s no wonder the home crowd showed up in support and excitement.
After two neck-and-neck sprint finishes on half-distance events between the favorites Braden Currie and Kyle Smith this year, it’s no surprise the pair, along with Mike Phillips, came together early on in the bike leg, with Currie maintaining first position throughout that leg.
“I had a really good day," said Currie. "I worked really hard on the first lap of the bike, knowing that when the race came together—and Kyle and Mike were there with me—that as long as I stayed consistent and looked after myself, I’d run well.”
Coming off the bike, Currie powered ahead, dominating the run right through crossing the finish line in first place with a time of 7:57:12, ahead of Mike Phillips and Kyle Smith.
“I looked at my watch early in the run, and I was running a 3:05/km pace," said Currie. "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! I didn’t want to end up in a side-by-side battle with those boys; I wanted to make them hurt and feel the pain early and not give them a chance to run with me. Quite often that strategy works when you can run that pace for a while and grit your teeth and hang in there.
"Full credit to Kyle for sticking in there," continues Currie. "He was hanging tough on the run and good on him for getting it done. I know it won’t be the result he was hoping for on his debut, but no doubt when he pulls off his good race its going to be a lot tighter."
After not only winning Ironman New Zealand on his debut back in 2017, but also breaking a course record, Currie—the Kiwi husband and father-of-two— noted that it was quite special to again win a race that means a lot to him.
"That first win here on debut was a bit of a fluke to be honest, and I probably didn’t give it the credit it deserved at the time," said Currie. "I kind of shrugged it off and thought I must have just had a really good day. So it’s been a solid win today after a few years of fighting for it again. It’s a long time since I’ve raced well here and I’m really proud of how it played out today. It’s beautiful to have my family here. My wife and kids have been on this journey with me every step of the way. Bella and Tarn are really starting to understand what’s going on; having a Dad as a professional athlete, they probably didn’t fully get that as babies. It’s nice to show them how the hard work we’ve all put in can turn into the result I know they’ll be super proud of today."
With the next focus being the Ironman World Championship, anything is possible for Braden Currie, with today’s performance having established a good confidence moving forward.
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