Images courtesy @bradencurrie
By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
Braden Currie is grappling with the “bone deep” disappointment of a Kona DNF after having his “dream” build-up to the Ironman World Championships derailed by a mystery virus.
The Wanaka 36-year-old went into the 226km race among the title favourites following his bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships, delayed till May and shifted to St. George, Utah due to the pandemic. But just as the cannon sounded to send the Pro males on their way in Kailua-Kona Bay early Sunday (NZT), Currie’s team posted to social media the revelation that he had been trying to “bluff” his way through the week with Covid-like symptoms.
Currie admitted the tears flowed on the realisation his Kona dream had been snuffed by “something like Covid but not Covid” which had kept him in bed for much of the week.
The video message had been filmed the previous evening with Currie saying there was “not a chance” he would start “feeling like this”. His young daughter ultimately convinced the reigning Ironman New Zealand champion to start early Saturday Kona time (Sunday NZT) and after escaping the water 12th, it seemed Currie might be able to pull off a miracle finish. He even rode up to fifth early into the 180km cycle but the elastic band to the leaders soon snapped and Currie went “Location Unknown” on the Ironman tracking app 50km into the ride.
The DNF is a cruel hammer blow given Currie’s laser-like focus on Kona which had included a purposely light racing schedule and a five-week Maui training block that has been as “smooth a lead in as it could be”.
“I guess gutted is the only way to describe it,” a nasally Currie said in the video.
“It’s been a bit of a week of trying to bluff my way through it and , ah, a few different Covid tests but something has got me, some virus, some flu and I haven’t been able to shake it.
“Every day I keep hoping maybe things will come back and we’ll be all good, we’ll be 90 percent to get on that start line but it’s obviously tomorrow and at this point in time there’s not a chance that I’m going to be on that start line, and if I am [there is no chance] that I can be in the form that I want to be to be able to race a world champs and in this kind of heat environment. To race this race for me it’s not even worth trying to do it feeling like this.”
In a written portion of the Instagram post, Currie unveiled how his decision to start played out.
“You can have the best preparation and on race day…you have nothing in the tank. I have flipped this one on its head and I’m going to trial the worst week of prep and hope to have everything to give on race day,” he wrote on Instagram.
“We had prepped everything for race day in the hope it would all come together, but it didn’t. The team and I sat on the rocks and decided it wasn’t to be. We did everything we could and made all the right choices in the lead-up. We don’t [know] why I got sick but we thought it would sort itself out before race day. It didn’t. I haven’t cried for as long as I can remember but the decision was eating me up bone deep. It was done.
“Then my daughter who had been enjoying herself as she does [sic] best swimming like a dolphin with her friends, saw the expression on my face and knew I was going to quit.
She said to me ‘dad, you have to race’. [Wife] Sal explained to her that I wasn’t in good enough health to pull off 8hrs in 35 degrees. She said ‘You will be fine dad.’
“It was enough to get me over the line. I racked my bike and here I am. Hoping belief and the “willingness to suffer more than anyone on course will get me home”. Words from the champ @janfrodeno. Let’s do this.”
Ultimately though, Currie wisely listened to his body.
“Yeah, I’m gutted. I’m sorry to everyone whose been following along the story. It’s been a bit of a dream build up to this race and things were going really smooth. I was really stoked with where we were at and I was super excited about racing but sometimes things don’t go your way and yep, it was one of them.
“So I will be feet up, get home and get healthy and start for next year, I guess.”