This year’s IRONMAN World Championship at St George is anything but conventional.
And just as unconventional is Braden Currie‘s preparation for it.
The global COVID pandemic has largely restricted the Kiwi, ranked #16 in the PTO world standings, to finding races and events at home in New Zealand, while he’s also had to cycle and run to his country’s highest points to try and replicate the sort of altitude he’ll experience in St George.
He wasn’t able to defend his IRONMAN New Zealand title earlier this year after that race was cancelled, instead going back to his multisport roots and making a last-minute entry for the Coast to Coast event, which featured kayaking rather than swimming.
Ready for a reset
But he’s taken it all in his stride, saying: “I’ve made peace with the fact that my career is now somewhat based around spontaneity, dictated by the flow of the pandemic.”
A fourth win in the Coast to Coast offered plenty of encouragement ahead of his return to the world stage next month at St George.
And in a video update on his YouTube channel he talked about the challenges he’s faced and how training has progressed since then.
He said: “This career of Ironman is relatively finite, so losing two and a half years of my prime has been pretty frustrating.”
However, he explained that there were some hidden positives beneath the disappointment. The 35-year-old elaborated: “At the same time, I look on the bright side. I’ve been racing for ten years, and it’s pretty nice to know you’ve had a solid year off to rebuild and refocus.”
Furthermore, Currie confirmed that he was carrying injuries and niggles after a decade of competition: “I honestly think my body was ready for some time off. I was pretty beat up; I was definitely carrying some injuries and was ready for a reset.”
Glad to be back
While Currie already has one eye on Kona in October, the mountainous region of Utah is at the forefront of his mind right now.
The Red Bull-backed athlete has recently based himself in the resort town of Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island. Accessible from there is training route up to the winter ski area of Snow Farm – the climb is 14 kilometres long, on rugged terrain and heads from 400 metres to 1500 metres altitude.
All of this designed to prepare him for Utah and what he says is a “very different challenge” to Kona. “The course is going to be a little bit hillier. It will be a wetsuit swim and there are other things to factor in too.”
Currie’s training regime is co-ordinated by his coach Val Burke. “Val has an awesome knowledge of high-performance sports and strength endurance. I work with her every second day.
“She’ll either come out for a key session and measure lactates and take some different data as we’re going. Or she’ll be in the gym one-on-one working on my strength and conditioning.
“It’s been really interesting. Two weeks after Coast to Coast I thought I was really well recovered but the numbers said otherwise for that sort of intensity at altitude.”
He’ll soon head to Utah to acclimatise and part of the last lead-in to the World Championship will be some easy days which could be more testing than the harder ones: “I’m not the best at recovery, I don’t like taking too much time out.”
And as to what he expects when the race finally gets underway, he adds: “It’s the biggest race I’ve had the opportunity to compete in since October 2019. We’re going to have to get ready for a fast and heavy-hitting race, it’s exciting!”