[Editor's note—Pro triathlete Braden Currie continues his 2021 racing season with a look at one of the biggest events in his home nation: Ironman New Zealand. We're proud to present his race preview below, courtesy of his team. (Photos: Roy Schott / @shotbro_nz)]
The world’s longest-running Ironman event, with a proud and rich history deeply rooted in the town of Taupo, is happening this Saturday, March 27, after it was postponed due to the the COVID-19 outbreak. The race itself will showcase the best of New Zealand's triathletes and natural wonderland, with more than 2,000 volunteers and thousands of home supporters lining the streets in pure Kiwi spirit. Braden Currie is set to race after the unexpected and "welcomed" extended recovery phase following the Challenge Wanaka event in late February.
“The training and postponement of the race has been really good," said Braden. "I’ve had a few races over the [Southern Hemisphere] summer and Challenge Wanaka was relatively close to the original Ironman New Zealand date. So it’s allowed me to have more recovery time and get in a couple more key training sessions."
Currie has embraced family time and a break from long-haul travel due to the lack of racing over the past twelve month. He's been looking to Ironman New Zealand as the most realistic pinnacle event for the summer with time up his sleeve to dial in different aspects of racing at home and in the gym, where he's been focusing on strength and conditioning. His international race schedule in the past wouldn't allow for these types of efforts.
“We finally made it," said Braden. "It’s been an interesting year, and it's amazing to think it’s been over a year since I last raced full distance—which was Ironman New Zealand 2020."
Even though there has been a lack of racing, the Ironman champion has had numerous wins in other areas, including the major rollover of bike partners when he joined the Felt Bicycles family.
“Having Felt on board has been game changing," said Braden. "The IA race bike is the perfect platform to work on positioning. I’m really lucky to have Justin Ralph from Cycling New Zealand to help with the fit of the bike, too, which is an ongoing process. We’ve been able to achieve a lot more aero positioning, so it’s been really cool to see the progression in this area."
The Red Bull-endorsed athlete has also utilized the downtime to hone in on the world of gear customization, from bars and saddles to shoe insoles.
“I’ve been working on new custom aero bars with Daniel Barry and integrating them into the new bike," said Braden. "They are a real asset and help me stay in position, comfortably, for a lot longer. I’m also working with the Secret Saddle Club and their gebioMized Stride saddle. I’ve found the new saddle provides a much improved platform to pedal from, and it’s helping me find more consistent power throughout my pedal stroke. Justin Ralph has also designed and built custom gebioMized insoles for more, which are lot more comfortable and allow me to integrate a lot more power into the shoe and pedal through the foot due to the support they provide."
Currie, along with his wife and children, are due to arrive in the town of Taupo soon to enjoy a few days of taper and all that the area has to offer.
“Taupo is always great for an event like this," said Braden. "My family loves coming here, and it’s always great when you have that big crowd support during the race."
Ironman New Zealand was half-set up and put on hold when COVID-19 alert levels changed in early March, with many athletes left questioning whether a postponement was even a possibility considering the magnitude of the task of rescheduling an event of that capacity over a short time period.
"It’s awesome that the Ironman New Zealand organizers were prepared to push to sort a new date, allowing everyone the opportunity to achieve their goals and experience that success and enjoyment of a race like this at a time like now," said Braden. "It’s really important for everyone out there in all age groups. They put so much into it and commit so much of their summer preparing for an event like this.”
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