By Kent Gray/ in Taupo
Ironman New Zealand has lost another big name on the morning of it’s 40th anniversary with Braden Currie taking to social media just after 6am to announce his withdrawal.

The two-time champion said he had arrived in Taupo “healthy and stoked to be lining up for a great race” but had woken up “not pretty”.

“Behind the scenes I’ve been battling a virus and waking up this morning to an inevitable outcome. Could be covid but either way it’s not pretty,” the Wanaka 37-year-old said.

It’s a blow for all involved with many looking forward to the next chapter in Currie’s Taupo battle with defending champion Mike Phillips.

It comes after positive COVID-19 tests saw Kiwi women’s title favourite Rebecca Clarke and Cantabrian Laura Wood announce their withdrawals on Friday afternoon.

Currie wrote that  he was “grappling with what feels like a lose, lose decision either way,” no doubt referencing the fact he is personally sponsored by the new title sponsor sponsor of Ironman NZ, ANZCO Foods.

However, he’s decided to put health first ahead of what is a long season chasing glory and riches in the new Ironman Pro Series.

Currie is scheduled to race the Athletic Brewing Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in Texas on April 6 and the Memorial Hermann Ironman North America Championship in Texas on April 27. Thereafter he’ll defend his title at Ironman Cairns on June 16, chase that oh-so-elusive gold medal at the VINFAST Ironman World Championships in Kona on October 24 before rounding out his year at the 70.3 Worlds in Taupo on December 14-15.

“I feel like I’ve had some unlucky races the last little while. But my team have reminded me of the massive season I have ahead of me…and the big race that has always been my greatest ambition,” Currie wrote referencing Kona.

“If it was anyone else asking me for advice I’d tell them not to race and focus on the big picture. But for me to make this call feels incredibly gutting.

“I feel like I’m letting down everyone around me. This sport requires grit and determination, which feels like the easy part but then it counters by demanding patience instead.

“Wishing everyone a great race out there today. Sorry I won’t be there fighting for my place.”

The Pro fields start at 7:50am. Phillips’ main competition is now expected to come from Aussie Steve McKenna.

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