High-speed, hardcore New Zealand adventure racing

Get ready to hit the starting line in Wanaka for the Red Bull Defiance adventure race.
One look at Braden and you know he's pushing hard
One look at Braden and you know he's pushing hard © Miles Holden/Red Bull Content Pool
By Josh Sampiero

High speed, high altitude, high intensity. This is the Red Bull Defiance adventure race, a two-day multisport competition in Wanaka, New Zealand.

Red Bull Defiance

Where: Wanaka, NZ
When: Oct 25 - 26
Distance: 153.25 km
Altitude gain: 4418m
Stages: 7
Disciplines:
Bike, run and kayak

What is 'adventure racing'?
Well, to a large degree it's a sport that's defined by its distinct lack of definition. Incorporating skill, endurance and mental challenges as athletes use multiple modes of transport to finish the course, an adventure race can include anything from a simple run to, in this case, a shooting contest (yes, seriously!).

 

So it's not your neighbourhood 5k?
Nothing about adventure racing is normal! Take a look at the video above to get an idea of what Red Bull Defiance competitors are in for. “That last run – over what we here in Wanaka call 'The Skyline' – is a beast!” says competitor Braden Currie. “25km, with over 1,000m of vertical gain – and that's AFTER two days of racing. The fast guys will do it three to four hours!”

Braden Currie, a new kind of adventure athlete
Braden Currie, a new kind of adventure athlete © Miles Holden/Red Bull Content Pool

Who DOES this kind of thing?
When Red Bull Defiance kicks off in Wanaka, NZ this Friday, two-man teams will tackle multiple legs of running, biking, paddling, and more. Red Bull's Braden Currie will be on hand to set the competition bar high. The 28-year-old Kiwi is a 'new breed of athlete'. “Being a multi-sport athlete means you have a real strong endurance base,” says Currie. “Running, biking, paddling… you need an incredible level of fitness, so that if someone goes for a kick, you can keep up – or be able to put the hurt on someone else when it's time for the hills.”

 

You gotta run, and you gotta ride!
You gotta run, and you gotta ride! © Miles Holden/Red Bull Content Pool

Defiance is a little bit ... different.
What sets Red Bull Defiance apart from events like the well-known Mark Webber Challenge? Speed and simplicity. “This is a lot shorter, just two days of stage racing,” says Currie. “There's no navigation, so it's a lost faster. More physical racing rather than mental. No stop and start, no getting lost … this is balls-to-the-wall-effort. Taking the track-running mentality to the adventure racing course. When the gun goes, you go for it!”

Grinding it out in high gear
Grinding it out in high gear © Miles Holden/Red Bull Content Pool

By the way, there will be guns.
Not only will there be a starter pistol sending the athletes off, they'll have to pick up a fire-arm themselves. “Clay pigeon shooting is popular here in New Zealand,” says Braden. “In the middle of one stage, athletes will get two chances apiece to hit a (moving) clay target. If they hit it, they'll take 500m off their course!”

What's the strategy?
With the race happening in Braden's hometown, he's no doubt a favourite – but he says teams from Australia and New Zealand both pose serious threats. His strategy? Get out in front during the first running hill climb, and hang on to the lead from there.

Here's how to watch...

To find out how Braden or other teams are doing, follow @RedBullNZ on Instagram for Live Updates every 15 minutes of the two day event, follow @RedBullNZ and @RBDefiance on Twitter for live updates, and see action clips of the day on Facebook.com/redbulldefiance.

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