By Kent Gray/
“It’s great to put down a good performance and show them the Old Man can still race.”

Son Tarn and daughter Bella, there with Mum Sally to greet the new Asia Pacific Ironman champion chute-side, didn’t really need a reminder of how good their Dad, Braden Currie, is at this long-distance triathlon lark. Still, just in case anyone else wondered if the Wanaka 37-year-old might be past his prime, Currie delivered a Cairns Ironman masterclass Sunday. You’d better believe the Old Man can still race.

A record 2:37:45 marathon sealed victory for the Kiwi long-distance King in a Cairns Ironman course record 7:50:11. It was a complete go-to-whoa, PB swim, pace-setting bike, and sizzling run performance that will give Currie confidence he can at least repeat his 2021 Ironman World Championship bronze medal at this year’s edition in Nice on September 10. Especially that superlative 42.2km split.

Indeed, a third Cairns crown, adding to victories in 2018 and 2019, was the perfect anecdote to a miserable end to 2022 (highlighted by a Kona DNF) and the start to the current year that didn’t quite go to plan either, Currie a shock second to Cantabrian Mike Phillips at Ironman NZ.

There was no repeat of Taupo in Tropical North Queensland with Phillips 5th in 8:17:14, his 3:04:45 marathon split the direct result of having to expend so much energy on the bike to make up a 1min 43sec deficit out of the water.

In the end, Steve McKenna pushed Currie hardest but the Aussie was a distant second in 8:00:01 – a whopping 9mins 50sec adrift – with Tim van Berkel third in 8:04:05 ahead of Peter Jacobs in 8:09:49.

“Good day out really, well it was a tough day out, nothing is ever easy, it was pretty tough conditions, it was pretty windy on that bike course, so yeah, just stoked to come away with the win to be honest,” Currie said.

Kylie Simpson’ sealed her second Cairns win in the last three years to back up her IRONMAN Australia triumph last month. Her 8:40:53 effort was also a course record and almost 18 minutes clear of fellow Aussie Radka Kahlefeldt, with Canberra’s Penny Slater rounding out the podium.

“It was fast course on a great day and yeah, I guess that run just pulled it all together for me. Yeah, a pretty solid day out there all round, just super consistent, good swim, solid ride but looked after myself and then a good solid run, yeah just one of those days.”

Currie was pleased to push the pace from the get-go, knowing it would hurt second-seed Phillips.

“Obviously I wanted to lead that swim out and I was stoked to put, I must have put 30 seconds into Mike on that swim which just meant he had to work so much harder to get back up with us and then yeah, we just rode pretty solid, but pretty steady and yeah the run just felt pretty comfortable to be honest,” Currie continued before adding a kicker.

“It was just steady and consistent and yeah, I even got to turn it down a little bit at the end.”

It must be nice to have the family here to celebrate?

“I keep on thinking I’m an older athlete and getting towards the end of my career, so um, it’s important to share those moments with the kids to be honest, to share those moments and they’re at the age now where they’ll remember these moments and great to put down a good performance and show them the old man can still race.”

Max Neumann set the previous record, 7:52:54, en-route to edging Currie last year. The recent PTO European Open winner joined Sunday’s commentary and hinted at a 2024 return to Cairns, a prospect Currie welcomes.

“It’s really special. I came in pretty under-prepared last year so it’s good to get back another win and yeah, go toe-to-toe with Maxy and let’s hope next year we get to start on the start line together. Yeah, it will be an exciting race, I can tell you that.”

Expect Currie’s PTO ranking of 60 to soar on the back on Sunday’s performance. You can guarantee too his run, after a pair of 2:44 splits in 2019 and 2022 and a 2:39.59 in 2018, won’t have gone unnoticed around the long-distance world either.

Respect is something that never gets old and Currie added to his reputation in spades Sunday.

2023 Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns

1. Braden Currie – 7:50:11
2. Steve McKenna – 8:01:00
3. Tim Van Berkel – 8:04:55
4. Peter Jacobs – 8:09:49
5. Mike Phillips – 8:17:14
6. Ben Phillips – 8:19:02
7. Matt Burton – 8:33:12
8. Tuan Chun Chang – 8:36:22
9. Matt Kerr – 8:39:03
10. Nathan Dortmann – 8:45:10

1. Kylie Simpson – 8:40:53
2. Radka Kahlefeldt – 8:58:49
3. Penny Slater – 9:05:50
4. Sarah Crowley – 9:25:00
5. Kate Gillespie-Jones – 9:29:01
6. Emily Donker – 9:34:52
7. Laura Brown – 9:46:30
8. Sarah Thomas – 10:00:59

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