Mooloolaba has proved a happy hunting ground for Kiwi duo Braden Currie and Hannah Wells, who after incredibly close swims and major tussles on the bike leg, found their rhythm to literally run away from their opposition to pick up their first IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast wins.
The Sunny Coast wins will play an important part of both Currie and Wells season 2020, guaranteeing them hometown starts in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupō, New Zealand from 28 – 29 November 2020.
A Sunshine Coast regular, Currie has used Noosa as a training base for many years, but it was his first ever win on the Sunshine Coast. While convincing in the end, the locals put him to the sword in the swim and on the 90km cycle leg with a large group into T2 and out onto the run together.
Finally prevailing, the two time IRONMAN Asia-Pacific champion was delighted with his win, his world 70.3 champs qualifier and his Kona preparation.
“It was a good day and I was stoked to get the win here on this beautiful course and with a beautiful day for racing. The support was awesome and the crowds out there were great, so I am just stoked to take it.”
“The course is fantastic here and swim is beautiful as always, a great swim, one of the best in the world. The bike course is really good and it is exciting to come back through town. The atmosphere is great and Mooloolaba puts it on. The locals really get out and support it, especially coming over Alexandra Headland. It is a fun course for racing.”
Currie said he definitely didn’t have it all his own way, but he trusted that his extensive preparation and vast experience would prevail.
“The first lap over the hill on the run it was all pretty tight and I was nervous there for a bit, but I knew I had IRONMAN legs that if I kept strong then the other boys would crack. Second time around they did and I got to enjoy it.”
“The win is a confidence builder but there is still a lot I can do. I would like to be able to break that bike up some more, because I know in Kona there is going to be harder riding and a lot of stronger guys. The body feels pretty good to be honest but the big focus for me is five week’s time in Kona, So, mentally it is now just accepting the challenge and getting back into training.”
“It was good to be able to test the run and today is a good indicator that it is where it needs to be. That is a real positive for where I am at in my preparation. I will build on it from here and I now know how much work I have to do in the next five weeks.”
“Obviously I would love to win in Kona, that is the ultimate goal. I think it is great to get to race the best in the world and that is the real beauty of Kona.”
“It is a horrible course, incredibly challenging because of the heat and the winds but it is a lot of fun to get to race 60 of the world’s best guys have made it their sole focus. None of them are turning up half prepared, they are turning up for the best race of their lives,” he said.
One of the pre-race favourites, former Sunny Coast champ Tim van Berkel crashed out on the bike in spectacular style, leaving it up to South Australian Steven McKenna and Queenslander Simon Hearn to grab the minor podium spots.
“It is all good thanks mate,” van Berkel said post race.
“Just a few stitches in my face and nothing broken. I am such a battler. A gust of wind wiped me out in town in front of everyone,” he laughed.
Third place in 2018, it was a much improved Hannah Wells who delighted the Mooloolaba crowd with her stunning run, grabbed her first Sunshine Coast 70.3 title and qualified for Taupō 2020.
“I was really happy with how the race went. I had strong swim to start which set me up well. Onto the bike Caroline and I got away quite early and swapped places a couple of times. We didn’t get too mixed up with the men which was good. We came into T2 together and I had a quick transition and got out onto the run nice and quick and found my own rhythm and stuck with that to the end.”
“I love it here on the Sunshine Coast because the roads are so smooth especially compared to New Zealand. Our roads are pretty rough, so it is fast and it feels nice. Plus, the crowd support out there on the run is awesome. Even at the other end of run course there are people out in Maroochydore cheering you on.”
“The weather is also so beautiful, so it is wonderful to come here from New Zealand at this time of the year. It is cold and not that nice at home at the moment, so the Sunshine Coast is good little holiday, as well as an awesome race.”
Hannah is looking forward to returning to Australia for IRONMAN Western Sydney on 24 November but her long term goals feature something a little closer to her home in NZ’s Bay of Plenty.
“I am feeling good and pulled up well, so I will be ready to go at Western Sydney. I am definitely taking my slot for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo next year. A home town race, I will definitely be there. I wouldn’t miss it,” she smiled.
IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast
Pos Name Gun Time Swim Cycle Run
1 Braden CURRIE 03:44:47 00:22:31 02:08:12 01:10:56
2 Steven MCKENNA 03:46:48 00:22:29 02:08:20 01:12:46
3 Simon HEARN 03:47:21 00:22:38 02:08:05 01:13:17
Pos Name Gun Time Swim Cycle Run
1 Hannah WELLS 04:11:27 00:25:13 02:20:51 01:21:43
2 Caroline STEFFEN 04:14:44 00:25:20 02:20:47 01:24:53
3 Laura ARMSTRONG 04:24:00 00:28:01 02:27:07 01:24:53