“I am a self-motivated person with two amazing kids and wife, living in one of the world’s most amazing places, doing what I love.” – Braden Currie
It’s hard to keep up with Braden Currie. The 29-year-old from Wanaka is one of the busiest and best athletes in New Zealand and his main goal for 2016 is to represent New Zealand in the Olympic distance triathlon in Rio de Janeiro in August.
“I’ve taken a pretty unconventional path,” admits Braden.
“Olympic distance triathlon is something I’ve never done before and most triathletes go the opposite way. They start with Olympic distance triathlon and move up to the longer distances of half-ironman and Ironman as they get older. I started off in adventure racing and multisport and I think that background has given me a great physical base to build speed from and also the mental resolve to keep going when things get tough.”
Born on a farm in Methven, Canterbury, Braden’s first foray into the world of multisport came as a 19-year-old at the 2006 Coast to Coast. Competitors cycle, run and kayak for 243 kms from one side of the South Island to the other and it’s considered one of the toughest tests in New Zealand sport. Despite only training for a couple of months and having little or no kayaking or cycling experience, Currie finished 3rd in the two-day event.
Richard Ussher, the race director of Coast to Coast and one of New Zealand’s most successful multisport athletes remembers being impressed by Currie’s potential: “I first came across Braden when I was doing a training run on the Coast to Coast course,” says Ussher.
“He tagged along with me and hung in there for a long time which not many people were able to do back then. Right from the start it was obvious he had a lot of talent.”
Instead of capitalising on that talent, Braden opted to move to Australia for a few years where he built up a mountain biking and cycling business with his wife Sally.
In 2011, he returned to multisport, stepping up to compete against the big boys in the one-day Coast to Coast event and finishing third behind Richard Ussher. That was all the encouragement Braden needed to commit to a professional sporting career. He hasn’t looked back since.
Braden has dominated multisport in New Zealand in recent years, winning three successive Coast to Coast titles from 2013 to 2015. After winning his third Coast to Coast in 2015, he set his sights on the global XTERRA off-road triathlon series. He won the New Zealand and Asia Pacific XTERRA championships at the start of 2015 before moving his wife Sally and two children, Tarn and Bella, to the US for six months so that he could train with and compete against the best in the world. That gamble paid off when he won the US off-road triathlon title and finished second at the XTERRA world championships in Hawaii.
At the start of 2016 he won his second New Zealand half-ironman title and set himself the target of breaking into the top 140 triathletes in the world in order to give himself a chance of qualifying for Rio.
“Braden is so dedicated and single minded and all the years of hard work are paying off for him,” says Ussher.
“He’s a little bit cockier than most Kiwi athletes but he’s able to back that up with some impressive results.”
In the last two years Braden has competed in 34 events, won 21 of them and finished on the podium 95 per cent of the time.
“I race more often and more consistently than pretty much anyone else on the triathlon and multisport circuit,” he says.
“I race different distances and disciplines and I race year round. Most guys will have a four or five month block where they don’t race. I like to race every couple of weeks. I enjoy hard training blocks of two or three weeks and then I need a rest or a race. Financially it makes more sense for me to race and to get some exposure at the same time. I like to try and win as many races as possible and keep my name out there.”
“Everything is on your doorstep in Wanaka. too”, Currie says of his home base.
“You’ve got lots of different training options and the community is super supportive. We’ve got a pool in town and I spend a lot of time in there even if it’s not that flash! My favourite swimming spot is Lake Wanaka. I run the Millennium Trail around the lake a lot and it’s ideal for speed work. When it comes to cycling it’s hard to beat the ride from Wanaka to Treble Cone and back. It’s 50kms of undulating, scenic beauty. It’s an epic ride.”