Surging run takes Currie to seventh in Ironman World Champs
Author: Cat Pattison
Running down some of the best endurance athletes on the planet – with the race’s third fastest run time - Red Bull’s Braden Currie finished the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship, as the first Kiwi home, in seventh place today.
Achieving a top ten in the world result, at what is commonly known as the toughest ironman course, held on the hot humid Hawaiian island of Kailua-Kona, Currie was pleased with how two of his three disciplines panned out.
The 3.8km swim and the 42.2km run, which takes the maxed-out competitors through volcanic lava fields, were his high points in the long, on-the-limit day. Currie went from 6th place exiting the choppy ocean water, before dropping down to 23rd at the end of the gruelling 180km bike, then showing his true grit to clock a blistering marathon time of 2hours:46mins:25secs to finish in 8hours:08mins:48secs.
“I’m proud of my run. It’s the first time I’ve managed a better run in Kona in the heat, so that’s a good positive I can take away from today. I also had a great swim and swam at the front with the top guys. I felt really comfortable coming into the beach with the lead group and that was exactly where I wanted to be,” he says.
He started out the bike in a pack that contained a few expected names - Jan Frodeno, of Germany, Brit Alistair Brownlee, the United States’ Tim O’Donnell, two-time defending world champion German Patrick Lange, plus Australian Josh Amburger - and rode with them for about the first 50km. With the pace threatening to irreparably damage him for the run, Currie slipped back, only to find himself surrounded by the surging super cyclists Australian Cameron Wurf, German Sebastian Kienle and Canadian Lionel Sanders.
As they hit Kawaihae and started the Hawi climb at the 65km mark, Currie dropped down to 16th, 3mins down on the leaders.
“My biking legs just weren’t really there today. They sucked to be honest. I had some bad luck, in that I couldn’t hold the group I was with at the front with Jan [Frodeno]. Then the next group was full of the top bikers and there wasn’t a group in between, which there usually is.”
“I ended up in between groups and riding solo for quite a while. I tried to ride as consistently as I could and just hoped that by time I got to the run, I would be in reach of a few front-runners,” Currie says.
As the race wore on, the increasing air temperature and humidity made it even tougher for the athletes but Currie cut a swathe through the field on the run. By the 14km mark he had made his way up to 12th overtaking two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee by the Energy Lab turnaround.
Nearing 30km he gained a couple of extra spots to sit in 9th and managed to reel in a couple of other athletes to finish 7th, 17mins behind the now three-time winner Frodeno.
“I would have liked to have bettered my fifth place from last year, but racing doesn’t always go plan no matter how dedicated you are and no matter how much training you put in. I accept this result and at the end of the day, I’m still in the top 10 in the world - happy days,” Currie summarises.