(Posted - 12 Aug 2012)New Zealander Braden Currie emphatically marked his Anaconda Adventure Race National Series title intentions with an unchallenged win in the inaugural Noosa Anaconda Adventure Race on the Sunshine Coast today.
Currie, who first registered on the adventure racing radar this time last year with a come-from-nowhere win on the Gold Coast, crossed the line more than five minutes ahead of his nearest rival, Victorian Jarad Kohlar.
A battle ensured for third place between another pair of Victorians, Reece Stephens and James Pretto, the latter losing his legs on the trail run, Stephens able to then hold off Pretto on the remaining kayak and beach run legs.
In a show of just how fast the solo elite males were today, five individual racers made it over the line before the first team entry crossed (teams often being faster due to sharing the athletic workload).
In the women’s category, last year’s Series champion, Deanna Blegg, began her season on a high note, smashing the new Noosa course in a time of 4:57:51.
“I loved the course," said Blegg. “Really fast and fun. I loved the mountain bike and the split paddle legs worked really well."
Blegg is also a veteran category competitor and so takes out both overall and category honours, plus goes one up in a personal ongoing rivalry with male elite racer, Jarad Kohlar, who she beat out of the water on the swim.
Coming second in overall female category, local Noosa adventure racer and fellow veteran competitor, Kim Beckinsale, backed up Deanna in showing that age has nothing to do with results when it comes to adventure racing. She crossed the line a good twenty minutes ahead of Queenslander, Samantha Hemsley.
Hailing from Cotton Tree (Qld), Hemsley’s performance is notable in itself for the fact that it is her first ever adventure race. Her athletic prowess has some pedigree, however, as she has ridden at a national level in road cycling and recently took up surf life saving.
“The mountain bike was definitely my strongest leg," said Hemsley. “I made up a lot of ground and places on that one, and had a lucky wave on the kayak, too."
Beckinsale, who helped organisers set the course and a leading promoter of adventure racing as a sport in south-east Queensland through her training business, Tri-Adventure, was wrapped with her race saying “I came home nearly an hour faster than I thought I would!"
For Blegg, a mother of two and in training for the Tough Mudder World Championships later in the year, taking the finish line tape was a sweeter success than usual, having missed out on last year’s Lorne (Vic) finale.
Both Blegg and Beckinsale have led the push to encourage more women into adventure racing and were both all smiles over the weekend having noted a significant increase in female participation, especially in Saturday’s Anaconda Mini.
“It was great to see so many women out there," said Blegg. “It’s really important that women know events like the Anaconda are achievable. I think the Mini was a great stepping stone for that.
Hopefully it’s the start of bigger things for females in the sport as they come through the Mini and hopefully progress into the longer form events."
For Braden Currie, today’s win was a continuation of form following last year’s string of top placings in last year’s Anaconda Series (1-3-2) and podium performances in numerous adventure races in his homeland in the first half 2012. The Wanaka-based athlete has been working on several of his disciplines readying for his first tilt at full-time adventure racing.
“I was behind after the swim and paddle leg, but reeled the leaders back in about ten kilometres into the mountain bike’" said a salt-encrusted Currie at the finish line.
“I had lots of ups and downs for a four hour race, and got lost three times, which made me nervous knowing that Jarad was not far behind, but I managed to have a good run and felt great on the paddle and pulled away again."
Of the event’s move from the Gold Coast to Noosa, Currie was effusive.
“That swim – starting and finishing on Main Beach – is one of the best swims I’ve ever done," said Currie. “It was an amazing atmosphere for an adventure race – we’re used to being in the middle of nowhere and not seeing too many people on course, so to come here to be surrounded by lots of supporters and beautiful beaches, it’s pretty special."
Currie now looks forward to hopping a bit further across the ditch again in November for the Augusta round of the Anaconda Series, where he will be chasing championship points as well as racing for national pride as part of the Trans Tasman Trophy.
Currie earned his spot on the New Zealand Team having scored a podium at the NZ Multisport Championships in Rotorua recently. His solo time result in Western Australia will be combined with his teammates’, Sam Clarke and Nic Leary, in a grudge match against the Australians. New Zealand won in 2011, but Australia holds the leaderboard 3-1.
The Noosa round of the Anaconda Adventure Race National Series doubled as the selection race for the Australian team to compete for the Trans Tasman Trophy, with the two highest-placed locals, Jarad Kohlar and Reece Stephens entitled to race for their nation alongside women’s winner Deanna Blegg.
The first non-solo racers over the line first was a pair, with KayakRaceing.com.au’s Tony and Glenn Curtis (NSW) taking category honours with a sixth over the line effort.
Local all-female team, 4567-Local Noosa Girls, had put it out in the press early that they were out to win the teams category, and take home the full team honours they did (excluding pairs), beating all male teams and fulfilling their predictions of a victory in a fitting start to this season’s push to encourage female participation.
1. Braden CURRIE 04:07:28
2. Jarad KOHLAR 04:12:57
3. Reece STEPHENS 04:30:57
1. Deanna BLEGG 04:57:51
2. Kim BECKINSALE 05:04:36
3. Samantha HEMSLEY, 05:20:30
1. Kayak Raceing.com.au (Mixed Pair) 4:38:20
2. 4567 - Local Noosa Girls (All Female Team / 1st team), 4:38:51
3. Get Shorty (Veteran Team / second full team), 4:39:15
AARNS Round Two travels to Augusta, WA, Nov 4: www.anacondaadventurerace.com