There’s no place like home, especially for XTERRA elite Braden Currie who manages one of the most ambitious racing calendars of any endurance athlete on earth.
This weekend, rather than traveling across the globe to tackle an adventure race or long-distance tri, he’ll be right at home, literally, in Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand for XTERRA Motatapu.
Currie, who placed 7th at XTERRA Worlds last year, said “I really enjoy that environment and get to roll out the door and drive ten minutes to the start line so that will be good. I raced there last about three years ago in the XTERRA event, I know the course has changed a little, so I am looking forward to testing it out. XTERRA Worlds is always on my program, it would be great to qualify and lock up that spot and then get on with the rest of my year.”
Currie has won XTERRA Motatapu three times, from 2012 to 2014, but says what he enjoys most about this race are the epic views.
“Getting into the middle of that valley is always amazing, some of the country in there and the way those valleys open up, going through those river crossings towards the end, it is definitely an environment that l love being in and can’t wait to get back out there.”
His biggest challenge on race day, aside from Mother Nature, will be fellow Kiwi Dougal Allan, who won this race in 2015 and 2017.
“There is some rivalry,” said Allan. “I love to race Braden. In recent years I haven’t had too many wins against him, but any opportunity I get I thrive on. While we are good mates before and after the race, it is not the case after the start line, we are out to get each other. It is a cool rivalry, I appreciate that he pushes me further than I might otherwise push myself, the chances against an athlete of his caliber are few and far between, but I thrive on them.”
Both Currie and Allan pulled from IM New Zealand in Taupo last weekend, Currie due to illness and Allan due to a mechanical on the bike, so it’ll be interesting to see who shows up in better condition.
“We haven’t spoken since Taupo but pre-Taupo we wished upon each other to have a hard marathon run to destroy our legs before XTERRA,” Allan said to the MacPac Motatapu media team. “As it turned out neither of us had that, so we are hopefully going to be relatively fresh for the weekend. It is hard to beat Braden in any triathlon, but in one that is relatively speaking weighted towards the mountain bike, I can give him a good push and make him work for it.”
Allan went on to say he much prefers racing off-road and can’t wait for Saturday, as he too will be racing in his backyard.
“This is where my passion lies first and foremost, in the rough and rugged outdoor setting,” said Allan. “I have raced it and won two years, both times in a pretty fatigued state from other races, so it will be nice to attack the race fresh. It is probably more my niche, my environment with river crossings and hopefully weather plays a part on race day, it will be a big test I think.”
Currie added that he loves the atmosphere around the event, with so many people from all walks of life converging on the finish line at Arrowtown.
“Arrowtown is a great location for it all to finish, it is a great atmosphere that finish line, with so many people coming in and cheering so many great experiences.”
Allan is quick to agree.
“The finish at the village green at Arrowtown is amazing, you can end up with close to 4,000 athletes and their supporters all there celebrating their different events. There are so many ways to get to that finish line, the ultra-runners, triathletes, mountain bikers, hikers, runners, it makes for a special afternoon with loads of different stories and celebrate success, it is a unique finish line for that reason.”
The XTERRA race, which combines a 2km swim, 47km mountain bike, and 8.5km run, is one of six events on offer in Wanaka this Saturday. The day is deemed the largest one-day multisport event in New Zealand, and for the XTERRA Tribe, a chance to grab one of the 16 qualifying spots on offer to race at the 2018 XTERRA World Championship in Maui.