Challenge Wanaka - won by Currie and Kahlefeldt
Included Braden's further interview at the bottom of the page
New Zealand’s top triathlete and multi-sport athlete Braden Currie came from behind to win for the second year in a row the Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka and become the Challenge Asia Pacific Champion 2020.
Credit Challenge Wanaka
He came out of the water in second to Christchurch’s Dylan McNeice closely followed by Mike Phillips the current Ironman New Zealand champion. On the bike leg he dropped to fourth behind a fast Mike Phillips, Brit Joe Skipper and Australian Matt Burton, who came second last year in Wanaka. Currie showed his grit and years in the game as he headed out of the bike transition at a blistering pace on the run, and soon caught Skipper. Burton and Phillips were harder to run down but, on the Outlet Track he managed to pass both and kept his lead to finish by 1min 3secs. Making it look easy as he passed through the finish to take top spot as Asia Pacific Champ. A strong Burton ground down Phillips on the Outlet Track to finish second with Phillips in third, and kiwi Jack Moody on their tail.
"It is absolutely amazing today! Having been in Wanaka for 11 years now you just know everyone and it is phenomenal out on course. What an amazing community and it is great to be here!" said a thrilled Braden Currie.
The women's professional field today was arguably the strongest it has ever been in the 14 years of Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka. Rebecca Clarke from Auckland came out of the water first with Radka Kahlefeldt the Czech triathlete and Olympian seconds behind her, with Laura Wood from Christchurch and Tauranga’s Hannah Wells and 2019 champion, hot on their heels. The bike leg though, was all about the battle for top spot between Clarke and Kahlefeldt who were neck and neck all the way round the scenic course. Wells dug deep and got herself back into contention by the new Mount Barker leg of the course and ground her way into third. The top three women came into T2 together and the crowds knew the run would be a battle. Wells passed Clarke but could not catch the Czech who dominated the run from the start. A happy Hannah Wells commented, “Maybe I biked a little bit too hard to catch them [Kahlefeldt and Clarke] and just found the run a little bit tough and just did what I could. Radka was world class out there today so happy with how my day went.” They ended up finishing 3min 19 secs apart giving Radka Kahlefeldt her second Challenge Asia Pacific Championship win (previous in 2018). The battle for third was highly fought over on the run with American powerhouse Meredith Kessler kicking it into gear and third place in the last section of the tough run course.
“It’s a beautiful course but I think it’s better to not know the course because if you don’t know the hills that are waiting for you then you push harder,” said an ecstatic Kahlefeldt, who due to flight delays only arrived with her young family on Thursday evening, so did not have a chance to check the run course.
“It’s a one-loop run course which it tough as well. It is a really technical run and you have to watch every single step because it would be so easy to make a mistake and roll your ankle. It's hard to get the rhythm and keep the pace because it is up and down, left and right so it’s a really solid run, but really nice.”
As well as the strong international professional field there were a thousand Age Group athletes for the Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka incorporating the Challenge Asia Pacific Championships and the Garth Barfoot Aqua Bike fighting it out for top spots or just to challenge themselves. The cooler weather and calm day helped the athletes have a great race and allowed some PB's to be broken under blue skies in Wanaka.
Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka Results
Garth Barfoot Aqua Bike Results
Currie defends Challenge Wanaka win
Racing on home turf certainly suits him, as local legend Red Bull endurance
athlete Braden Currie did the double, backing up his 2019 Challenge Wanaka
Three weeks out from IRONMAN New Zealand, the half-distance race in Lake
Wanaka, out on the scenic Southern Lakes roads and around the Wanaka
township, was the perfect build-up for Currie. He finished in
3hours:59mins:48secs, comfortably running down Australian pro Matt Burton
(4:02:37) and fellow Kiwi Mike Phillips (4:03:31).
While the 1.9km swim took place in ideal conditions, with Lake Wanaka mirror
flat, the heat quickly got turned up by the top athletes on the 90km bike.
"I feel like I'm in pretty good form, had a solid swim and was feeling
comfortable. Joe [Skipper]is a is a phenomenal rider and he was out to
attack but even when he got past me, he didn't make a huge amount of time on
me over the last 30 kilometres," Currie says of one of his main rivals.
"Mike [Phillips] threw everything he had at the bike. He's coming back from
injury so it was going to be interesting to see if he could hold his pace on
the run. I had a bit of a deficit to Mike and Joe at the end of the bike,
but I felt confident in my run form. "Currie, who finished 7th at the 2019
World Ironman Championships in Kona, adds.
As is usually the case, Currie turned on the after-burners throughout the
21.1km run and smoked on by the early leaders.
"I was hurting but managed to run the first few kilometres at
3min.15sec/3min.10sec per kilometre pace. I sent it really hard! I caught
Joe and Matty pretty quick and then all of a sudden I'd taken 3 minutes out
of Mike and I knew I was going to catch him."
"The run went really well and I was sitting at 3mins.30secs to 3mins.40secs
pace. I eased off at the 8km mark once I got into the lead," Currie says of
conserving his energy for the longer distance race in Taupo on March 7.
"Three weeks out from Ironman NZ, my endurance is definitely there and my
riding was on track for Ironman power," Currie says.
The benefits of racing around his hometown today were apparent as he blitzed
the course for the second consecutive year.
"The local support on this course is phenomenal these days. It's amazing how
many people I saw out there and people I know really well, cheering me on.
The other highlight
was having my daughter Bella and son Tarn there at the finish line," Currie