Braden Currie set out on a mission last year to win the XTERRA World Championship. He came ‘oh so close, finishing 2nd to Josiah Middaugh.
The goals got even bigger in 2016, with not just an XTERRA World Title on his mind, but a spot on the start line to represent New Zealand at the Olympics triathlon in Rio.
To achieve those dreams, he put his off-season on hold.
“I haven’t really stopped since World’s,” said Currie, who notably became only the second man along with Middaugh to finish ahead of Ruben Ruzafa in 16 races over three years in Maui. “I was really stoked with the 2nd place result and was on a huge high after that race. But racing didn’t stop for me. Travelling to the USA meant that I was going to have to take on another back to back summer, so I just sucked it up and went hard as soon as World’s was over.”
Straight after Maui Currie flew to Australia and won the Augusta Adventure Festival, an event that combines trail running with swimming, kayaking, and mountain biking, for the fourth time in a row.
“I was pretty stoked with that one as I hadn’t kayaked since February and just had to wing it on the day in the 13km paddle,” he said.
Next up was Taupo 70.3, and another resounding victory.
“I think I might have snuck in a week off before getting back on the time trial bike and training for Taupo,” said Currie. “I was pretty motivated to win that one as I had put a lot of my efforts into 70.3 when I was in the states but hadn’t had a result that I felt reflected what I could do. The race went well for me and I managed a pretty easy win, which was very unexpected but gave me a huge confidence going forward with my season of road racing. Straight on from that I raced in the Long Distance National champs in January and managed to take the title off 10* champ Cameron Brown.”
With his focus now set on turning his endurance base into speed the new year brought a whole lot more racing, trials and tribulations.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” said Currie. “I only had the chance to race sprint distance triathlon, as they were the only ones on offer and this was a steep learning curve. The key to triathlon is the swim and I was starting way out on the start line because I had no points. This made it hard to find the right feet and I was getting stuck with slower swimmers and losing lots of time. It’s only a 750m swim so not a lot of time to figure it out in the water. But after five weeks of racing non-stop I think I have it sussed and have some points on the board so I now start in a better spot.”
Currie won the NZ Olympic Triathlon Championship race last weekend, which he says was not an accurate reflection of how he is going because the top two Kiwis were not racing, still…
“It was good to have a reasonably good race. Because of that race I now have a start at my 2nd ITU World Cup event in New Plymouth on the 2nd of April, followed by a World Series race on the Gold Coast the weekend after. It will be 4 weeks of racing by the time I get to Asia Pacific’s but my body is recovering well and I seem to making progression through racing each weekend. I’m using the mountain bike now instead of the road bike as the cross over works and I like being back on my mountain bike. I am looking forward to Rotorua and Asia Pacifics and a style of racing I know well and enjoy. But racing the unknown has also been a great challenge and I know I have become a better athlete for it.”
Currie is a beast on the run and as tough as they come. Watching him go for it all in these next few months – both at XTERRA and on the road – will be a joy to watch.