Braden Currie and Terenzo Bozzone are the sole Kiwis on the pro start line at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on 14 October (Sunday morning NZT).

Currie is the rookie of the two, but is now clearly established alongside Bozzone amongst New Zealands leading long-distance triathletes. The former off road and multi-sport star is heading into the unknown however, when he races for the first time at Kona this weekend.

"Kona represents my biggest challenge in endurance sport. Once I decided I wanted to race it, I committed to ensuring that I gave myself every chance to race it at my full capacity. We designed my year around having the space for long training blocks in environments that offered everything I needed to get the most out of the many days of swim, bike and run."

Unlike many who might get a little nervy at having never raced at the famed Kona course before, Currie is taking a typically laid-back approach and using his rookie status to his advantage.

"I am really aware of some of the challenges that Kona presents for a first-time athlete. But I believe this is a great way to take some of the pressure out of the event. I am looking forward to experiencing it in its entirety. I also feel confident that I have given everything I can to my preparation for the event, so I know I wont have any regrets when I am on the start line about what I have put in."

32-year-old Bozzone has had a rough year by his high standards, with a few injury niggles and then catching pneumonia in July. He sees the good in that though, feeling fresh heading into this stage of the year and comes in after winning Cozumel 70.3 a few weeks back in similarly hot conditions to Kona.

"I am trying to be low key, with my objectives to work on in the race which cant be any worse than the last couple of times. Last year I swelled up pretty bad, all the hydration and nutrition just sat in my gut, and wasnt being absorbed into the body. But I have strategies to manage that this year - the aim is to lose weight rather than put it on during the race this year!

"Managing my effort levels throughout the day is key, it is hot and everyone goes out like it is a two-hour race, but it will be eight hours out there in 30-degree heat and 80% humidity with the best athletes in the world who have all trained all year for this. I need to be within myself and be strong in that last hour and a half.

"It really has to be just another day, as soon as you think of how big the race is in terms of competition and what it means for your career, that is when you can get into trouble. I have always enjoyed putting pressure on myself and stepping up, but I am staying emotionally controlled and looking to be strong all day."

Currie is pleased with where he is at, after posting an impressive win at the IRONMAN Santa Cruz 70.3 five weeks ago.

"Im in the best condition Ive ever been in and Im feeling happy with where I am. Santa Cruz 70.3 gave me confidence in the progression I have made, and gave me the opportunity to race quite a few of the top guys who will be at Kona. I couldnt have asked for a better lead in and now its just about resting and staying healthy, preparing to bring the energy levels up for race time so Ive got what I need on the day."

The mens pro fields get underway at 5:35am on Sunday morning NZT

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Athletics New Zealand