Unorthodox transition continues in Hawaii, writes Chris Rattue.

Braden Currie burst on to the Ironman scene in March with a stunning win on his first attempt at the distance in the national championships.

Among those he beat in Taupo included 12-times winner Cameron Brown, the only Kiwi male to have made the podium in the famous Ironman world championships in Hawaii.

The 31-year-old Currie will make his debut in Hawaii on October 15, another step in an ever-changing multisport career for the Wanaka-based athlete.


Currie was training in Boulder, Colorado, when we caught up with him. He talks about life on the road with his family, living with dyslexia, the teacher who inspired him, racing in China and his tactical plans for the gruelling Hawaiian swim-bike-run event.

Does that Ironman 70.3 win in California last week give you a lift for Hawaii?

Hawaii is a whole different race - twice the distance and probably twice as hot. But to beat some of the world's best is great and gives me a little bit of confidence.

You collapsed at the finish line after a long battle with American Ben Hoffman - how bad can the pain get?

Ben is an amazing 70.3 athlete and it took a lot of willpower not to let him run away with it. Your body is already tired after three-and-a-half hours, yet you have to take it to another level. Exhaustion is to the max ... focusing on staying alive for a few seconds after finishing is the prerogative, until your heart rate settles down and you can control your breathing. But it is why some of us enjoy it so much ... there is nothing more rewarding than taking yourself to that point and having a good result.

There are claims that multisport exponents are as much addicts as athletes ...

Absolutely - there has been a lot of research on triathletes and they have very obsessive personalities. But I don't regard myself as obsessive. I love the sport but I'm not obsessing over gear, training sessions and data or even the sport itself.

You were a Coast to Coast star, so why the switch to Ironman?

Athletes at the highest level of road racing are more professional and commit everything to it, whereas in adventure racing and multisport, almost everyone is doing it as a hobby. I love endurance sport, whatever the format, but I wanted to do it professionally.

Your career highlight?

My first Coast to Coast win, which highlighted to me my potential. Crossing the finish line at Sumner with my son Tarn ... an incredible moment. This sport is quite isolating, selfish, and my kids are definitely a big part of what I do.

Tell us about China ...

People would be surprised about the adventure racing in China. It was used to promote different areas there. When my wife (Sally) and I decided we would try to make endurance sport a career, my only way to make money initially was to win races. They pay really good money, and I don't think I lost in 10 races in China. It was a lot of fun but challenging ... there are hygiene issues and a lot of people get food poisoning while racing. But we went to places just as beautiful as New Zealand - big canyons we paddled down, limestone cliffs 100 metres high, amazing. Out of the main cities, you see some really cool places. China has been the backbone of the New Zealand adventure racing community for five or six years.

Where were you brought up?

Methven (near Ashburton), on an 11,000 acre farm, three-and-a-half-thousand sheep, five or six hundred fattening beast. Farming was my life until 16 and then I got involved in the outdoors scene. It wasn't until 24 that I started endurance racing.

How did being dyslexic shape your childhood?

I learn visually, hands on, manually. I was never going to figure out learning in a classroom. I found ways to get out of class. I didn't do any schooling in my senior years - I was there to waste time. I remember going to a Christchurch clinic when I was about 15, to figure out if it was my eyesight or dyslexia. It was probably a relief to my parents to know but I didn't care. I cared about sport, snowboarding, playing touch football with my mates.

What about now?

I can read a book but it's still not my favourite pastime. Once you are out of that structured school system, you figure out ways to make it work. I'm lucky to have Sally working with sponsors, doing the business side. I'm strongly dyslexic and can't put my thoughts down in writing but I have no issue with verbal communication. I definitely have different ways of thinking about things to what other people do.

I understand that one teacher played a big part in your life ...

James Roderick, my PE teacher (Mount Hutt College), gave me more time than most people. He realised I loved endurance and sparked that little bit of fire in me. I've got absolutely no doubt about the importance of finding people in life with real belief in what your are capable of. I was lucky enough to find one of those people.

How big do the air miles get?

The year before last, we did 21 countries, 48 flights, 18 different rental cars, can't remember the number of hotels.

Financially - tough or not?

We've lived off the sport for five years, but we are relatively entrepreneurial. We manage a couple of luxury houses in Wanaka for Chinese investors, run high end adventure-based holidays for rich Chinese people, coaching clinics, we own the Red Bull Defiance event in Wanaka ...

What is it like being parents on the road?

We are not the most traditional of parents. Tarn (son, aged 9) is lucky not to have my genetics. He's a smart kid. He goes to Wanaka Primary six months a year, travels with us the rest of it. We don't do correspondence ... but we do pretty set learning with him five days a week. He will do his maths, write a diary, write stories to his friends, make slides for his class mates. We are fortunate the Wanaka school is used to transient families ... (daughter) Bella is only four.

Where does your drive come from?

I really don't know. I just have a natural ability to push myself hard. I'm a relatively non-competitive person until I get on the race track. I look at other athletes and think physically and training wise, there's no difference. Then I perform twice as well. My approach is not to think about the event or integrate with the people around it. I just keep to being a dad, family life, and once I start racing, I find the aggression to go.

What will be your tactics in Hawaii?

It's my first time giving it a crack, so I will be figuring it out. I'm not very good at taking advice. I like to learn my own ways - everything is trial and error. My strength lies in the back half of the run, and that is where the big time differences are made. If I can get to that point and turn up the throttle, I'll be happy no matter what the result.