Born in 1986, Braden Currie was raised on a small-town farm in mid-Canterbury, New Zealand. Now, Currie is one of the most respected multi-sport athletes in the world and is endorsed by several global brands including Garmin, Asics, and RedBull. Currie began his career in off-road racing, but after claiming titles in the New Zealand and Asia Pacific XTERRA Championships, as well as the New Zealand Olympic-distance, long-distance, and ultra-distance triathlons, Currie officially transitioned into a professional endurance career.
Currie is currently training and preparing to compete in the Ironman World Championships, and as an athlete who always tries to push past his limits, he is aiming for nothing less than the best. With the mentality of a true competitor, Currie won his first attempt at IRONMAN New Zealand in 2017. He twice captured gold at the 2018 and 2019 Asia Pacific Championships, and also placed fifth at the 2018 World Championships in Kona.
Next, Currie has his sights set on taking the world title, and he felt prepared to do so in 2020 before the event was postponed. With the delay, it has been important for Currie to stay positive and motivated, and he has remained grounded as a husband and father while also finding support in the network of family and friends that surround him.
Face the Current reached out to Currie to hear more about the story and drive behind one of the most incredible endurance athletes alive.
Ty Johnson: As an athlete who competes in multiple disciplines, how do you feel your preparation for an event differs from the average athlete?
Braden Currie: At the end of the day, it just comes down to having more ability to do the volume of training than the average athlete can commit to. And that goes hand in hand with the ability to recover and use time more efficiently.
TJ: You have competed in more than seventy-five races over your career and boast an impressive fifty-three win-percentage along with a seventy-eight percent rate of reaching the podium. What factors have been the most important in helping you to remain at such an elite level of competition for so many years?
BC: I think every professional athlete has to manage injury and that’s been a big part of it—being really aware of my body and knowing the difference between a muscle fatigue or tiredness and a muscle strain. Making sure that I have the belief and confidence to get back when I have got an injury and allow myself to recover so that I can race well. Consistency has always been a big thing for me, and I always want to turn out to a start line and give my best.
TJ: How do you structure your year in terms of life balance and rejuvenation?
BC: That’s another big part of it—making sure that we have a year structure and the trainings periodized. I have a good block off to recover and let the muscles sort themselves out in the heart, and then back into some solid training. After races, I also make sure I always have good recovery.
TJ: You have competed in many races in New Zealand, but you also have lots of experience traveling for top global events. Does the location or caliber of an event have any specific effect on how you prepare yourself mentally and physically?
BC: It has a lot to do with the environment that you’re racing in—whether it’s hot, cold, hilly, flat, a cold swim, a hot swim, etc. There are lots of different tools we use to get ourselves ready for different conditions and different courses. Mentally, it’s about trying to find the things that excite me the most about the course so I can focus on that and make sure that the amp is high towards the race.
In terms of caliber, we prioritize our year towards the bigger races and put a lot more focus towards those ones. There is always a big block of training that goes towards a big event, and a lot more focus is placed on the conditions. With a smaller event, it might just be off the back of normal training or I may not even take off for it.
TJ: What is one tip that you would give to a younger athlete pursuing a successful career in sports?
BC: Patience and persistence. Enjoy the process and find out what you like most within the sport. Put yourself in good environments, whether it’s training or at home. Make sure that you’re in a really good space to be able to achieve and also get support and help that you need. And just stay healthy! Eat well and stay rested, because your body’s going to be under a lot of stress, so look after it.
TJ: Have there been any individual races that have been especially meaningful to you?
BC: The Coast To Coast Ironman (the Multi-Sport World Championships) was the event that first caught my eye in endurance sport, and it was what I pursued as my first big goal within the sport. It was an amazing accomplishment and achievement and feeling of fulfillment to win that race.
TJ: When the global pandemic hit, many athletes were forced to put their love for competitions and events on pause. How did you handle the time spent away from racing due to Covid-19?
BC: Covid-19 changed the dynamic of being a professional athlete. It’s been about playing a bit more of a long game, being content with what I’ve got at home, and enjoying not having to travel so much. I’m focusing on my family and also things that are weaknesses for me. I’m spending a lot of time on those weaknesses and I’m working on turning them into strengths, all the while looking forward to getting back to racing.
TJ: How has your career as a multi-sport athlete helped to shape your views and perspective on life?
BC: My career has done so much for me as a person to develop my confidence and beliefs, and to hone my drive and motivation. It has allowed me to see the world and travel a lot and to have some truly incredible experiences.
TJ: How important have the other aspects of your life been (like your family and friends) throughout the mental grind of endurance sports?
BC: I think it’s probably been my biggest strength; being a father at a young age was something that really grounded me and made me commit to either being an athlete, or to whatever I was doing at the time. It was born out of financial necessity and my own drive to give my kids a vision of what it looks like to work hard and be successful. They’re very supportive of me and I probably wouldn’t even want to be a professional athlete if it wasn’t for them. They are the icing on the cake!
TJ: After already having so much success, what are your immediate and long-term goals in your athletic career?
BC: It’s still a bit of an unknown in terms of this year going forward. But, my biggest goal is to be on the podium at the Ironman World Championships and have the race there that I believe I can have. That’s my biggest goal for the next couple of years. Outside of that, I want to perform well at other events around the world, enjoy the sport, travel, and be with my family.
TJ: What is the toughest part about being an elite endurance athlete?
BC: The toughest part is constantly staying motivated and staying committed, because it’s pretty relentless being a professional athlete. I guess if you’re a builder and you don’t want to go to work, you still go to work and swing a hammer, and the job gets done. If you’re not committed to going to work each day as a professional athlete and you don’t hit the nail on the head and claim some of those training sessions (and do them properly with some drive and some vigor), then you’re not going to perform well at your races. The hardest part is the motivation and drive that you’ve got to sustain throughout the periods of training that can be pretty long and relentless.
TJ: Why was the Coast-To-Coast race especially meaningful to you?
BC: I lived quite close to the course and got to see it firsthand as a support crew when I was fourteen. From there I just progressively had an interest in it, and I watched my brother and close friends compete which probably connected me to the uniqueness of the event. Being able to race from one side of New Zealand to the other in one day—across wild terrain and some of the most technical racing terrain I can think of—was incredible. It was something that I still use to light my fire.