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By Kent Gray/Triathlon.Kiwi
A cursory glance down the Pro Men’s results sheet and a Kiwi age-group surprise have combined to provide further vindication of Gustav Iden’s Ironman World Championship brilliance.

Sadly, it doesn’t make happy reading for New Zealand with Taupo 26-year-old Kyle Smith joining Wanaka’s Braden Currie as a DNF victim of the gruelling 226km classic in Kona.

Coromandel school teacher Matt Kerr, meanwhile, showed tremendous character in the face of cruel luck after colliding with a spectator at 60km/h just two kilometres from T2 while in third place. The 30-year-old dusted himself off the best he could and eventually recorded a time of 10:17:35 in defence of the overall age-group title.

“Not my day,” said Kerr who was provisionally 188th in the 30-34 category. “Unfortunately at 178km on the bike, I had a pedestrian step out in front of me rolling through at about 60km/hr. I got completely cleaned out and so did she, taking the full brunt of impact.

“Absolutely gutted to say the least. I have so much support on my team and I honestly do not have the words.”

It was a sobering but far from unprecedented Kona debut. The Big dance on the Big island has felled far bigger names before and Kerr will undoubtedly rebound, as will his professional peers.

Smith was 15th out of the water in 48:27 but after producing a 4:34:35 bike split, failed to emerge from the transition after struggling near the end of the ride.

“Obviously out of the race, not really sure what happened but just had a really big wobble on the bike and barely made it home,” Smith said afterwards.

“I was going all right, felt really comfortable and then all of a sudden it was kind of like lights out and I struggled to get home. I barely made it off the bike, so I pulled the plug.  I need to digest it myself and figure it out but thank you everyone for your support and onto bigger things I guess.”

The Kiwis weren’t alone with big names such as 2021 Ironman World Championship runner-up Lionel Sands (8:32:28) and Collin Chartier (8:34:37), the recent PTO U.S. Open winner in Dallas, struggling to 34th and 35th places respectively. It helped put Iden’s record-breaking time of 7:40:24 in sharp focus.

Currie, meantime, had provided a glass half full update following his withdrawal after the 50km mark of the bike.

“DNF or DNS? – that was the question I was asking myself yesterday! I couldn’t decide which one was better or worse. But with a small sliver of hope that the body might come right overnight, I decided that DNF had a bit of a ring to it, and it was worth a crack,” Currie said on social media.

“After going through the paces of the race and even though I found myself in a good position on the swim and early on in the bike, I couldn’t go any harder than I was and I knew the wheels were going to fall off.”

The 36-year-old has vowed to return for another crack at the world title. His “dream” prep for this year’s race, although undone by an 11th-hour virus, will give him confidence that he can podium in Kona despite his race within the race with Father Time.


“After pulling the pin, I was able to have a laugh with my coach on the long drive home and feel like I still want to do this all over again next year,” Currie said.

“I am really stoked for the guys who pushed it at the front today and came home in record times @gustav_iden @samlaidlow @kristianblu @maxxyneumann @notanotheraveragejoe @sebastiankienle.

“This sport has huge momentum right now and Ironman put on a great show this week. I enjoyed watching the day unfold even if I was gutted to not be there racing it. I look forward to being back racing but for now I am looking forward to heading home after five months with my team on Tuesday.”

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