The Races Are Back
“There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Today I received information about a new race that is aiming to take place in December this year".
Around the world, athletes have had to press pause on their calendar events and focus on inventive ways to train from home with minimal equipment and scope in light of the COVID-19 crisis with only so many miles you can rack up in the back yard.
World champion Ironman athlete, Braden Currie is no exception and is now facing the grim reality of going backwards in order to go forwards.
Kona 2020 was Curries major goal. In fact, for the past three years, life has been dedicated to performance refinement with the aim to win that race. Solid plans for a good year of racing in the lead up was on the cards and his 2020 crack at Kona felt ‘different’ in a really positive light, the future bright.
Just six weeks ago, his first calendar race (Ironman New Zealand) unbeknown to him, would potentially also be his last for 2020 as he earned that precious ‘golden ticket’ to Kona. What a tease.
“It felt good coming out of Ironman New Zealand having ticked off that Kona qualification. Although I didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped, I was right at the start of my season and after de-briefing with my coach I realised there was actually a lot to take away from that race including the Kona qualification. I was tracking in the right direction.”
Holding family provision in high regard combined with an undeniably strong mind comes with unwavering desire and a somewhat primitive need to win for Currie.
“It’s been a difficult road of acceptance whereby sometimes ‘not-winning’ is simply part of the process and accepting this at times, without losing belief, has been the biggest lesson to learn in Ironman. I love racing so it’s hard to give up on opportunities to race along the way. I also earn a lot of my income from racing – so it’s always a hard balance. But I have accepted that it’s unrealistic to believe I can win every race. Every November, when we sit down to plan the year ahead, my wife and my coach have to remind me that too much racing and travel will take its toll and will take away my ability to race well when I really need to. Racing however has always been what drives me”.
Val Burke (Coach) - “You can’t peak all the time. You pick your big races for the year and my job is to ensure you’re at your top level of performance for those ones”.
COVID-19 slashed every major event off the calendar for the foreseeable future and potentially the entire year and beyond. But every new day presents little glimpses of hope as the world unites to tame this wild disease, hope that some sense of normality might resume within life and the sporting industry so athletes from all walks of life may be given the opportunity to do what they love and perform again in 2020.
“There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Today I received information about a new race that is aiming to take place in December this year. It’s a race that will give me a lot of motivation in my training over the winter, regardless of whether it can go ahead.
One of my favourite races, Ironman Cairns, has set a new date this year of September the 27th and I’d really like to go back and defend my title there. It is positioned just two weeks before the current Kona 2020 date though and I think that’s the race that we are all wondering about right now; will it go ahead? For me, I think that knowing there’s a good chance I’ll be able to race in Cairns if Kona doesn’t go ahead is still really motivating so that’s the timeline I’m now working towards”.
Currie continues to feed his motivation for high performance amidst the training limitations of lockdown by committing to time on the bike. Biking is the discipline that’s always been Curries greatest opportunity for gains – but he’s just never quite found the window of time in the year to focus on it completely.
“I am going into week four of a cycling specific block. My coach is happy. And I can see the progress already. I’m lucky to have Val. She has a huge depth of experience around cycling and has always wanted me to focus more on my riding. But it’s always been difficult to do that when you’re a triathlete and you want to race more than four to five times a year and perform at your best each time. I know that I need variation and change in my life, which is why I chose multisport to begin with and now triathlon. It’s been a mentally tough transition but I’m handling the current 30-40% increase in volume and my power is on the up which is really helping with the onward motivation”.
Currie is hoping for the best in terms of what this year will bring race wise stating he’s always been a big advocate for ‘belief’ and heightened positivity during adverse times.
“We have to believe the races will come back this year and that it will be safe for them to do so. I’m looking forward to integrating swimming and running when the time is right, I’ll just tick away with what I can with running for now, knowing I can bring that back reasonably quickly. I’m confident it will all come together. I wish everyone the best during this time with their training and we will see you on the other side.”