Close Finish At Challenge Wanaka
© Sean Beale
Braden Currie fights to the bitter end at New Zealand's largest triathlon event.
Picture perfect conditions were enjoyed at Challenge Wanaka’s new hub; Glendhu Bay over the weekend. The Triathlon event is New Zealand’s largest and most scenic triathlon event set in the stunning Southern Alps.
Top favourites Kyle Smith and Red Bull athlete, Braden Currie, started the swim together. Smith made an explosive attempt to gain an early advantage and succeeded. The two were ‘toe to toe’ in terms of pace from that point on.
"The swim course was beautiful. You couldn’t have asked for a better morning for it. Kyle and I started the swim together, which was where I knew I needed to be early on in the race today. After about 400m and after rounding the first buoy, Kyle broke away," says Currie.
Coming out of the swim, Smith had a 47 second lead on Currie before transitioning into the five-lap, undulating 90km bike course. Lap one allowed the pros a clear course before the age groupers began to merge. Kyle Smith steadily put time into Currie, creating a 4min 30sec gap until lap 4 where Currie began to hold Smith’s pace.
“The legs were pretty slammed the first 40-50km of the bike and took a lot to get going before I found some rhythm,” Currie recalls.
The tables began to turn about 10km into the run with Currie having clawed back significant time, closing the gap to 2 minutes.
“The run felt really good, I didn’t fade I just felt better and better. I assumed the second half would feel harder but I managed to find a good rhythm and the course is relatively flowy so I kept chewing back time.
At the 15km mark, I knew I needed to run 15 seconds per kilometre faster than Kyle and it was all down-hill, I thought ‘no matter how much he blows up it's still pretty hard to run that much faster than him, I gave it everything.” Says Currie.
An impressive sprint finish after an exceptional chase had Smith arrive in 1st place just 13 seconds ahead of Currie.
Also competing was an elite team of friends of Red Bull, Hanne De Vet swimming, Mark Williams biking and, Hayden Wilde running.
The trio were unmatched and won by more than 5 minutes.