Watch the no pain, no gain Red Bull Defiance race

Amid freezing temperatures, snow, rain and wind, competitors battled to defy the odds and finish.
By Fliss Worsp and Corinna Halloran

Over two days on a gruelling 142km course, the 132 competitors who entered Red Bull Defiance had every weather anomaly thrown at them as they traversed the amazing high-country stations in Wanaka, New Zealand. From snow to sun, athletes mountain biked, ran, kayaked, shot clay pigeons and abseiled down a gnarly rockface on the way to the finish.

For day one, the 66 two-person teams started off with a marathon mountain bike ride, before transitioning into a steep, technical climb and then completing a daunting abseil together off a cliff into the native bush of Diamond Lake. Finally, the day wrapped up with a 20km kayak through the strong currents of the Matukituki River, where the crews battled eye-watering winds and choppy water. 

Braden Currie and team-mate Josiah Middaugh crossed the day's finish line first, a whopping 14 minutes ahead of the next team, proving that the international racing rivals do make a great team. "This guy Josiah is an absolute legend," said Currie after the gruelling first day. "You race with some people and you know that they'll suffer through everything you throw at them – and he's one of them."

Alex Hunt and Daniel Jones runs through the summer's snow in Red Bull Defiance in Wanaka, New Zealand on January 22, 2017
Who needs to feel their feet anyway? © Graeme Murray/Red Bull Content Pool

On day two, athletes awoke to cold rain and almost freezing temperatures as they paddled at dawn from the foreshore of Lake Wanaka towards the mouth of the mighty Clutha.

By the time they reached the second mountain-bike stage, temperatures plummeted further and, as the athlete's climbed the Criffel Range and passed the snow line, they encountered near hypothermia-inducing conditions. 

I don’t think I’ve ever raced in such bad weather conditions. When we hit the top of that mountain-bike ride, it was snowing. We were coming off Criffel Peak and I think I was getting hypothermic, my chin was going, but I knew I couldn’t stop. It was a matter of survival

Braden Currie

The weather was so intense that the run had to be cut by 11km to avoid the deepest snow. However, competitors were still faced with frozen extremities and plety of teams needed assistance to take off their helmets and zip their jackets on.

In the end, Currie and Middaugh took the championship crown. For the remaining teams it was a struggle against the elements, but one that was ultimately rewarding and a personal accomplishment that no doubt they'll remember for the rest of their lives.

Braden Currie and Josiah Middaugh slog through the cold New Zealand waters with their mountain bikes during Red Bull Defiance 2017 adventure race
Team Red Bull in the Red Bull Defiance with bikes © Graeme Murray/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Defiance 2017 final results

Men's Elite Winners: Braden Currie and Josiah Middaugh
Total Time: 10h 22m 21s

Women’s Elite Winners: Sia Svendsen and Joanna William
Total Time: 13h 26m 16s

Mixed Elite Winners: Marcel Hagener and Simone Maier
Total Time: 12h 2m 20s

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