It came down to the wire at the Tauranga Half today, giving the crowds that lined the streets of Mount Maunganui plenty to cheer for. Braden Currie finishing his first race of 2021 within 10 seconds of last year’s champion and record-holder Kyle Smith. Both Smith and Currie broke the previous course record by over 2 minutes, with a 3:39:43 and a 3:39:53 time, respectively. This is the first time in New Zealand half-distance triathlon racing that any athlete has broken through the illusive 3-hour, 40-minute mark. Jack Moody achieved a 1:10 minute run on the hilly two-lap run course and finished close behind Smith and Currie in third place.
“I didn’t think I would be able to bring Kyle back on the run," said Currie. "I had only managed to take 30 seconds out of him in the first lap and the last update I had at the turn-around had me 3 minutes behind. But I wanted to have a really good hit out today in the lead into Ironman NZ and my best training has often been hard racing. So, when I got to the last turn around point, I was still doing everything I could to not give any time away, especially in knowing that Jack Moody was chasing hard behind me. It wasn’t until I came off the Mount 500m from the finish line that I realized Kyle was just in front of me."
Unfortunately, Currie wasn’t close enough to give the crowd a photo finish, but everyone watching stood in awe at just how fast and close the racing was.
“It was good fun racing," Currie continued. "Awesome to finish up with less than two minutes between all of us on the podium. We are lucky to be able to race in New Zealand. We are one of the few countries in the world right now to be hosting triathlon events and the depth of field here is pretty motivated. We are all out there to push each other and I think we all really appreciate having such a solid level of competition to keep us going.”
Currie’s next event for the [Southern hemisphere] summer is Ironman New Zealand on the March 6. Currie has already qualified for the Ironman World Championships scheduled for October this year, but he is hoping to have his day at what he considers to be his key event of the summer in New Zealand.
"I haven’t had a great race at Ironman NZ yet," said Currie. "It will be my fourth time racing, and even though I have had a win here before, I still find it hard to be in my best form in the New Zealand summer. My coach Val always reminds me that it’s pretty hard to peak for every event I compete in, but I still like to believe I can. 2020 gave me a bit of breathing space to be honest. I actually think I would have been cooked had I not had a bit of time off. Living in New Zealand, you end up racing and training hard all year round, when all the guys in the Northern Hemisphere take their time off during our summer and after the World Champs. As a result of not traveling and racing, I am feeling really good.
"I am looking forward to racing Ironman NZ and then putting my head down and getting the work done in the lead up to Kona in October. I have no idea whether the race will go ahead, but if you don’t commit to the training early on, you might as well not turn up. It will be my 4th round at Kona and I think they are calling me one of the old guys now. Old and wise I say. Hopefully a solid year of training will set me up for a good year and the result that I know I can achieve on a good day on the island."
Professional triathlete, Braden Currie, kicked off his 2022 racing season with a stellar win at one of the most famous events in his home nation of New Zealand. The Currie family also made it a family affair, with Braden's son Tarn taking his maiden podium finish at the event's 5km running event.
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