Kiwis ready to take on Aussies in Ironman Oceania Lockdown Showdown
Hannah Wells (Tauranga), Teresa Adam (Auckland), Braden Currie (Wanaka) and Mike Phillips (Christchurch) will proudly fly the Kiwi flag in the next IRONMAN Virtual Challenge this weekend, as they go head to head with four of the best Aussie IRONMAN athletes on the planet in the Oceania ‘lockdown showdown’.
The four Kiwis will settle on their indoor trainers to take on Radka Kahlefeldt, Ashleigh Gentle, Josh Amberger and Tim Reed, with the women racing on Sunday morning (6am NZT) and the men on Monday morning (6am NZT), with both races covered live on the IRONMAN Now Facebook Watch page.
Adam is the current Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand Champion, winning in Taupo in March in race-record time and earlier this year won the New Zealand Road Cycling Individual Pursuit. But despite that success and an already storied career, Sunday will be a first for the 29-year-old.
“I am looking forward to it, it definitely will be hard, but I am going to enjoy it. I think it is fifty/fifty fun and competitive. I am not putting too much pressure on myself but you are lining up for a virtual race so you want to do the best you can. Any race I line up in I want to do my best and hopefully take top spot so it should be fun and generate some interest in the age group community.
“I am still training a good amount, but the biggest difference is bringing all of my riding indoors. Previously I have not done any indoor training so pre-lockdown we had to scramble to get a smart trainer and set up an indoor area, so riding indoors has been really new.
“The other major change has been swimming, for many weeks we couldn’t swim outside. Luckily, we had a pop-up pool outside, it is a tiny thing and I jumped in and tethered myself to the house and I have been swimming in there for the last six weeks tied to the house!”
Wells has enjoyed great success over the 70.3 distance in recent times, with three victories in the last six months.
“I am keeping things ticking over and doing the training I can with a lot of indoor riding so this race is good timing and a good opportunity to have some fun with a lot of other people out there and go up against some of the pro’s I would normally see on a race day.
“I do over half of my riding on the indoor training, I might do one or two a week outside, so it hasn’t been too different. I have upped my bike hours as we haven’t been able to swim, so the extra energy has gone into the bike while stuck inside.”
In the men’s race it is very much going outside his comfort zone for 2017 Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand and two-time Asia Pacific IRONMAN champion Braden Currie. The former multi-sport star and Wanaka resident loves nothing more than being outside in those beautiful surroundings.
“It has never been my forte, indoor training! But it is all about adaption, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. I have enjoyed it these last few weeks once the reality that I had to do this, that this was the new norm sunk in. I have found my way around the new platforms and how they work and the best outcomes I can get from it.”
Currie knows this will be very different but is ready for the challenge.
“40k all up is a little different to riding 180k IRONMAN races and trying to pace yourself, but who knows, maybe my old mountain bike and XTERRA days might come into their own given it is just about producing max power for that time.
“But this is a unique opportunity that we all have, it is great to be able to support it. When you race at our level it is harder to step into something like this when you haven’t had 100% focus towards it like a normal event on the calendar. But this is about getting out there with a few thousand other people and enjoy the experience.”
2019 Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand champion and runner up in March this year, Mike Phillips is perhaps the power bike rider in the pro-field and cannot wait to get stuck in from his Christchurch home come Monday morning.
“I am very excited to be a part of IRONMAN VR6. As a professional triathlete all our events in the traditional format have been cancelled for the next six months at least, so it is great to have these virtual options.
“I have raced a lot against Braden, and Tim Reed all around the world over the years, not so much Josh. Typically we have to travel halfway around the world to compete with these guys, so to be able to do so from the comfort of home, especially during the current circumstances, is a real treat.”
Live coverage of both races is available exclusively through the IRONMAN Now Facebook Watch Page.
IRONMAN VR6 Pro Challenge Women
6am Sunday 10 May (NZT)
Teresa Adam (NZL): 29, from Auckland is a former Olympic distance athlete, who this year won the 2020 Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand in a race best time, which included setting a new bike leg best. She is also a two-time winner of the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns and IRONMAN Western Australia. Adam was also the New Zealand Time Trial champion at the 2020 New Zealand National Cycling Championship.
Hanna Wells (NZL): Based in Tauranga, New Zealand, 29-year old Wells is somewhat of an IRONMAN 70.3 expert, crowned champion at the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong, 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney and 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo events. Wells has a PHD and has only recently put that career in medical research on hold to pursue fulltime racing.
Ashleigh Gentle (AUS): 29, is an Australian Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games representative and currently the number one ranked female triathlete in Australia. Gentle won the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Gold Coast and is a seven-time winner of the Noosa Triathlon.
Radka Kahlefeldt (AUS/CZE): 35, was born in the Czech Republic but is now based in New South Wales and is a multiple IRONMAN 70.3 winner. She has claimed victory at IRONMAN 70.3 events in the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand and competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
IRONMAN VR6 Pro Challenge Men
6am Monday 11 May (NZT)
Braden Currie (NZL): 32, is a former engineer and farmer, turned adventure racing, multi-sporter and triathlete. The 2017 IRONMAN New Zealand champion won the iconic Coast to Coast three times, along with IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo three times. Currie won the 2018 and 2019 Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns and finished in third place at Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand in 2019 and again in 2020.
Mike Phillips (NZL): 28, was a memorable winner of Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand in 2019, despite a mechanical and spectacular crash on the turn into town after lap one of the bike, which resulted in Phillips breaking his wrist. Phillips returned to Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand in March 2020 to finish second behind Joe Skipper (GBR).
Josh Amberger (AUS): 31, won February’s IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong, his 11th IRONMAN 70.3 victory. The Queenslander was also the 2020 Australian Long Course Champion and won the 2017 Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns.
Tim Reed (AUS): 35, calls northern New South Wales home and is a 20-time IRONMAN 70.3 champion. Reed claimed the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and has also stood on the top step of the podium at IRONMAN Australia and the IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship
Photo credit Ironman NZ