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Currie spices up Anaconda Adventure Race on the Gold Coast
It was always going to be a day of close racing between the big name adventure athletes at today’s Gold Coast edition of the Anaconda Adventure Race National Series, but no one picked the surprise winner in Byron Bay-based Kiwi Braden Currie.
The 25 year old, previously unknown in the Australian adventure racing scene, stayed with the lead pack early on before picking his way through it and passing early favourite Ironman Guy Andrews in the final stretch of the trail run leg.
With onlookers along the 50km course all asking, “Who is that man?” most still doubted that whoever the dark horse was could hold off the late but fast charging adventure racer Jared Kohlar and elite WA triathlete Sean O’Neill.
As all eyes in the crowd peered down the finish chute, expecting to see a Kohlar/O’Neill tussle to the end, it was cheers for the new star as Currie high-fived down the causeway raising tired arms over the finish tape.
“Well, I did come here to win,” said Currie when asked if the result surprised him. “I’ve done a little adventure racing and multisport in New Zealand but been off the scene for about four years, having kids and setting up my bike touring business in Byron kept me busy.”
It turns out that Currie has some strings to his racing bow with a third in the two day Coast to Coast in New Zealand and in a Half Ironman in 2009. Today he finished his first Anaconda Adventure Race on the Gold Coast in 04:01:45.
Currie’s win sets up a potential Kiwi clash for the Anaconda Adventure Race National Series with countryman and Race One winner Richard Ussher returning to compete in the final two events - Augusta, WA, and Lorne, Victoria.
“Yes, I’ll be racing both the remaining rounds,” says Currie. “I’ve never raced Rich but I’ve trained with him, before and I’ll be looking to have a crack at the title, for sure.”
There was one man on the course who did have an inkling of Currie’s potential, with fourth placed Guy Andrews noting he’d taken the eventual winner out training on the bike leg and saw plenty of talent. “Watch out for this guy, he’s got a big future in adventure racing,” touted Andrews.
Taking second place was WA-triathlete and series contender Sean O’Neill. Demonstrating the tight racing on show all day with numerous lead changes, third placed Jarad Kohlar was only another 36 seconds back, meaning the final top three were separated by just a minute and a half after four hours of racing.
In the women’s category, Melbourne-based favourite Deanna Blegg didn’t disappoint, despite admitting that she was considering pulling the pin just two days earlier due to fatigue and liver troubles putting her attempt to win back-to-back races in doubt. Coming good in the 24 hours leading into race start, she entered the water this morning for the swim leg and hit the beach second behind local surf lifesaver, Tara Ferguson.
“I usually feel vibrant before a race, but today was more of a struggle,” said Blegg. “The swim was hard, but once I got onto the boat for the paddle I came alive. It was a dream out on the ocean. “The run went well but then the last mountain bike leg was mentally tough; luckily I came on a bit stronger in the second half. Overall I’m happy with the win to make it two for two.”
Blegg now takes a tighter grip on the overall series and has her sights firmly set on a series win, something that despite numerous round wins over many years of competing in the Anaconda Series, she is yet to achieve.
On the overall series leader board in the men’s, 2010 Series Champion Grant Suckling snatched first place from an absent series favourite Ussher after hanging on to a valiant fifth. “Given I was doubtful of racing at all after suffering heatstroke a week ago at the Wulong Quest, I’m stoked,” said Grant. “Even when I made the decision to line up this morning, a top ten was my highest hope, so this is a great day for me.”
In the overall teams category, Currumbin Valley locals Storm Cycles, crossed the line ahead of race favourites, Team Hopefull, led by Guy Leech. The famed Ironman can take stock that they were beaten by a mixed team, meaning technically they still take out the all male teams category. “We were lucky on the paddle,” said a gracious Jody Zerbst from Storm Cycles, “I just sat behind a super fast paddler and hung on. It was enough to pull good time. Our runner Yoko is a gun but got passed by Brad Bevan and then our rider, Dave Whitney just retook the lead on the bike leg to hang on.”
Hundreds of other adventure racers lined up this morning at Palm Beach Parklands, greeted by sterling blue skies and calm waters, ready to tackle the multidiscipline course taking in the oceans, rivers and hinterlands of the Gold Coast.
The Anaconda Adventure Race National Series now takes the action to Augusta, Western Australia, in November. The Augusta leg of the Series has become the world’s largest adventure race with 1800 competitors on course. The Series then heads to Lorne, Victoria, for Race Four and the series finale.
- Braden Currie 4:01:45
- Sean O’Neill 4:02:24
- Jarad Kohlar 4:03:02
- Deanna Blegg 4:52:24
- Peri Gray 5:38:49
- Caroline Ladewig 5:48:05