Multisport: Currie tipped to push the pace

Braden Currie
Braden Currie
If results over the past 12 months are a form guide, Wanaka's Braden Currie is one to watch in the Longest Day section of the Coast to Coast this weekend.

With the world multisport crown at stake, Currie (26) is acutely aware of the demanding nature of the 243km course, which offers little room for error.

He announced his arrival in emphatic style last year, showing little regard for reputations in a high-class field expected to be dominated by defending champion Richard Ussher (Nelson) and Dougal Allan (Wanaka).

Currie shared the early lead on the 55km bike ride between Kumara and Aickens. He then opened up a huge lead on the gruelling uphill stage of the 33km alpine run, forcing Ussher to show his hand a little earlier than he may have liked.

It was not until three-quarters of the way through the 67km kayaking stage that Ussher was able to rein Currie in and go on to clinch his fifth Longest Day title.

Currie received his share of the accolades for finishing third, behind Ussher and Allan.

''It certainly opened doors,'' he said.

Ussher included Currie in his teams for international adventure races.

''It certainly makes it a lot easier when you get nudged into one of the top teams. And it's great getting good results and racing with the likes of Richard.''

Currie's third place emulated the result achieved by his older brother, Glen, the previous year.

Course conditions were more favourable for Glen, and he got to keep bragging rights in terms of time. Glen clocked in at 11hr 7min 10sec in 2011, and Braden was timed at 11hr 57min 46sec last year.

Braden Currie is mindful of lessons learned from last year and is anticipating a close race.

''This year is going to be fantastic. It's going to be interesting.''

Currie brings a youthful intensity to racing and should he remain in touch with the lead, as he did last year, Saturday's race could develop into one of the most hotly contested Longest Days in recent memory.

Defending champion Ussher, in the headlines this week for suggesting the Coast to Coast needs a shake-up, seeks a third consecutive title and a sixth overall.

Trevor Voyce (Nelson) was second in 2009, and recorded the fastest time on the alpine run stage last year. Motu Challenge champion Sam Clark (Whakatane), second in the two-day section in 2009 and fifth in the Longest Day in 2011, is also capable.

Three-time runner-up Allan, JJ Wilson (Christchurch) and Gavin Mason (Wanaka) will be others seeking the honour of being crowned world champion.

Elina Ussher (Nelson), who with husband Richard became the first married couple to win the open men's and senior women's double last year, is among the early favourites to win the open women's title.

First, she must overcome 2011 champion Sophie Hart, also of Nelson, who has a best time just 1min 5sec under the course record of 12hr 9min 26sec, recorded by Andrea Murray in 1997.

A win would hand Ussher her third title to go with her 2010 and 2012 crowns.

Both women will need to be wary of athletes such as Auckland's Louise Mark (second in 2010, fourth in 2011), Taumarunui's Rachel Cashin (third in five of the past eight years), Christchurch-based Swede Sia Svendsen (two-time winner of the team event), Hokitika's Tanya Maitland (seventh in 2012, ninth in 2011) and Brazilian Camila Nicolau (sixth in 2012, eighth in 2011).


Braden Currie
The facts
Age:
26.
Lives: Wanaka.
Occupation: Owner/operator cycle touring company.
Previous Coast to Coast results: Third two-day section 2007, 12hr 14min 1sec; third Longest Day 2012.
Best time on course: 11hr 57min 46sec.


Coast to Coast
Facts and figures
• Expected to attract more than 600 competitors.
• The longest-running multisport race in the world.
• Incorporates the world multisport championship in the Longest Day section, over a course involving 3km run, 55km road cycle, 34km mountain run, 15km cycle, 67km whitewater kayak and 70km road cycle.
• Two-day race begins on Kumara Beach at 7am tomorrow, with a staggered start leaving Klondyke on Saturday.
• Longest Day starts from Kumara Beach at 6am on Saturday, with the winner expected on Sumner Beach between 4.30 and 5pm.