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Braden Currie has finished seventh, fifth and third at the ironman world championship over the years.

All he needs this weekend is a first to complete the odd-numbered set.

The Wanaka multisport great is determined to be in the mix when the event returns to its traditional home, Kona, on the western edge of the main island of Hawaii, for the first time since 2019.

It will be Currie’s fourth race at Kona — his best there was fifth in 2015 in 8hr 4min 41sec with a 2hr 53min 39sec marathon — and he knows the challenges the course, with its rolling cycle and run legs, and heat and humidity, will present.

“This is the race that has drawn me to ironman — it is the most challenging with some of the fastest, hardest racing you can find on the planet,” Currie said.

“We choose to do it to test our physical capabilities on a world stage.

“It’s about making the most of the opportunities while you have got them.

“I’ve been lucky to experience longevity in this industry and I might only race for another couple of years so I will be giving it as much as I can.

“It’s exciting, a little bit nerve-racking, but all in all I’m just looking forward to racing it.”

Currie (36) and family set up a temporary home this winter in Noosa, Australia, to complete a block of training.

It was ideal preparation before heading to Maui, a place he likens to a second home, and on to Kona.

“It’s nice to be in a location with the same heat, humidity, wind and environment as Kona and not have had any major race commitments in the past few months. It’s been as smooth a lead-in as it could be.”

The race in Kona features the ironman distances over the swim (3.86km), cycle (180km) and run (42km).

Currie is keen to keep something in the tank to really push himself in the run, his strongest discipline and the one that sometimes leads to attrition as exhausted athletes hit the wall.

“Kona isn’t about being really fast on one discipline — it’s about being consistent across all.

“You have to keep yourself in the race. The field is too strong and competitive to fall back four or five minutes on the swim, for example.

“So my focus has been not to have a weakness, but if I do fall back slightly, I know I can lean on my running. It’s about having the tools in the tool bag to give it every shot I can.”

Oddly, this will be Currie’s second crack at an ironman world championship in the space of five months.

He was third at the postponed 2021 edition in St George, Utah, in May.

That race, coming a couple of months after Currie won the Coast to Coast, showed there was plenty of life left in the New Zealander’s multisport legs.

He led the race deep into the run before being overhauled first by Olympic triathlon champion Kristian Blummenfelt (Norway) then, with just 800m to go, Lionel Sanders (Canada).

It was a frustrating finish for Currie but still to be celebrated as he became the first New Zealander to claim a podium finish at the ironman world championship since Cameron Brown in 2005.

There are 55 athletes in the pro men’s field at Kona this weekend.

Three-time Kona winner Jan Frodeno is missing — the German great has been dealing with complications from a cycling crash — and two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee is out with a stress fracture in his femur.

That means Blummenfelt starts as the favourite, along with countryman Gustav Iden.

The world ironman championship is split into two this year.

It starts tomorrow with the women’s race and half the age-group events, while the men’s race and remaining age-group events are on Sunday.

hayden.meikle@odt.co.nz

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