April 18, 2015 (Callala Beach, NSW) – Braden Currie and Flora Duffy won the men’s and women’s elite titles at the 2nd annual XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race at Callala Beach in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia this afternoon.
After a wet Friday that soaked pre-riders and runners, the clouds and rain gave way to bright sunshine Saturday morning and near-perfect racing conditions, except of course, for the slick roots and muddy trails that the rain left behind. It turned intermediate routes into technical tracts and clean racing kits into mud-splattered ensembles.
In the men’s race the adverse conditions played right into the strengths of Braden Currie, one of the best adventure racers in the world.
“It was awesome, it was wet, it was muddy, it was actually quite technical because it was so loose but it’s stuff that you don’t get hurt on so you can hit it as hard as you can and if you crash you jump back up and go again,” said Currie.
The 28-year-old from Wanaka came out of the swim about the same time as Conrad Stoltz in 18:06, and trailed Courtney Atkinson and Ben Allen by about one-minute. Atkinson and Allen were up front on the bike early until the course got into some of the twisting tree lines.
“I knew it was going to be some pretty hard racing,” said Currie. “I caught Courtney on some of that single track and Ben sort of got stuck behind him and I made myself a bit of a gap and just extended that lead thru the end of the bike. I knew me and Courtney would have a pretty hard run battle if we were close, so I tried to put everything I could into that bike.”
The strategy paid off, and he posted the fastest bike split of the day in 1:24:03 (Stoltz was 1:24:23) which was more than six-minutes better than Atkinson. The way the two-time Olympian Atkinson can run, it was a necessary cushion.
“I knew when Braden was the first to catch me I was in trouble,” said Atkinson, who moved up from fifth off the bike to second by the finish by posting the fastest run split of the day (35:30) by two minutes. “Pretty cool to win the XTERRA Australian title for the third year in a row and ya know Braden, he’s not the world’s best adventurer for no reason. I came down twice on the bike today on some slippery stuff. It’s a challenge for me. There were times on the bike when I was thinking that I could get off and run faster than this, and much less dangerously. I know overseas they have sloppy, jungle XTERRA’s but this is probably the first time I’ve experienced this level of mud. I ran as quick as I could but the thing with XTERRA is the bike kills your legs. It was a tough day at the muddy office.”
For Stoltz, who was still pretty sick leading into race day, just being able to compete was a win.
“I wouldn’t have imagined a podium today,” said Stoltz, the four-time XTERRA World Champ who had to miss out on XTERRA South Africa in February and last weekend at XTERRA New Zealand due to illness. “Yesterday I didn’t think I was going to race but I woke up this morning feeling much, much better. I was just happy to be out there. Swimming felt alright but when I got out on the bike I felt pretty bad the first half. Every time I tried to push I just felt like there were insects crawling around on my head, it didn’t feel good at all, so I was losing time on Braden and the guys but I said to myself at least I’m participating which is better than watching. From there I just tried to stay steady so I could finish in the prize money but then all of a sudden in the last third of the ride I could see Ben and Courtney, and couldn’t figure out why I was making time on them. I was surprised to get off the bike in second, and on the run I knew I couldn’t push. The moment I started pushing I felt really bad so I tried to keep it steady and was second until just about 2k from the end when Courtney got by.”
“The Caveman” ultimately finished third, just ahead of Olly Shaw and Ben Allen, and had high praise for the guys in front of him.
“Two very honorable athletes in front of me, so no worries losing to those guys,” said Stoltz, who has 51 career titles of his own. “They are both real gentlemen and great athletes. Braden is very, very talented and I would say his biggest asset is his head. He’s very driven and his head is very strong. Plus, he’s a nice guy and down to earth. He’s the real deal.”
Shaw, the 23-year-old from Rotorua who was third last weekend at his hometown race, was thrilled to be in the mix and living the XTERRA lifestyle.
“Pretty happy, it’s an amazing field here. The highlight was catching Courtney on the bike. It’s my first season I’ve been up there and able to compete with these guys, and it’s just awesome,” said Shaw, who was third in New Zealand last weekend and will go on to race at XTERRA Tahiti next weekend. “Living a pretty good life, eh. I love training for it and really lucky to have these great events around the world to race at. The atmosphere is so awesome.”
Ben Allen, fresh off wins at XTERRA Saipan and XTERRA Guam, finished in fifth, with Josh Kenyon in sixth, Brodie Gardner seventh, Jarad Kohler, Kieran McPherson, and Mitchell Ginsberg rounding out the top 10.
TOP 10 MEN
Pos Name, Country Time Swim Bike Run
1 Braden Currie, NZL 2:23:37 0:18:06 1:24:03 0:37:32
2 Courtney Aktinson, AUS 2:26:23 0:17:00 1:30:26 0:35:30
3 Conrad Stoltz, RSA 2:27:12 0:18:06 1:24:23 0:40:31
4 Olly Shaw, NZL 2:27:50 0:19:48 1:25:25 0:38:35
5 Ben Allen, AUS 2:30:54 0:17:19 1:26:51 0:42:22
6 Josh Kenyon, NZL 2:34:08 0:20:31 1:28:47 0:40:43
7 Brodie Gardner, AUS 2:39:25 0:19:45 1:31:54 0:43:09
8 Jarad Kohlar, AUS 2:40:03 0:21:05 1:31:22 0:43:44
9 Kieran McPherson, NZL 2:41:45 0:19:23 1:35:53 0:42:05
10 Mitchell Ginsbert, RSA 2:41:53 0:20:12 1:33:04 0:44:05
THANK YOU TO THE SPONSORS
The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. Presenting sponsors include John Paul Mitchell Systems, the world’s largest privately owned professional salon hair care company, Outrigger Resorts – one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions, 220 Triathlon Australia/NZ, and XTERRA Wetsuits & Boards Australia – the official swim sponsor.