Currie, Orchard win XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship
Braden Currie and Lizzie Orchard captured the 3rd annual XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race on an unseasonably cool and windy day at Callala Beach in New South Wales, Australia this afternoon.
It’s the ninth XTERRA win of Currie’s career and for the second year in a row he won XTERRA New Zealand and the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship races on back-to-back weekends.
“For me it’s the end of five years of solid racing, and I’m just so stoked to finish on a good race,” said Currie. “You know that feeling of being smooth and consistent the whole race and finishing with a good result, when you race professionally it doesn’t get much sweeter than that.”
For everyone, the day started with an eye-opening walk down the beach to find big waves, red weed, white caps, wicked wind, crazy currents, and downright blustery conditions at Callala Beach. It was so rough getting in-and-out of the water race officials changed the swim course from two-laps with a beach-run in the middle to just one-lap that went with the current.
Even the pros had a hard time sighting buoys and swimming in straight lines.
XTERRA’s surf-life saving guru Ben Allen used the rough sea conditions to his advantage and led everyone out of the water, followed close behind by Courtney Atkinson. Impressively, Braden Currie and Sam Osborne came out together less than one-minute behind those two and quickly caught and passed Atkinson and joined a line of three with Allen into the Aussie bush.
“It was a challenging, tough course,” said Currie. “That swim was amazing. Probably good for us Kiwis because we can’t swim like Courtney can. It was so rough he couldn’t see where he was going so we could just follow his feet and keep in close contact with him. I knew coming out of the water it was going to be a good day if we were that close to him.”
By the midway point on the bike it was a three-man race with Currie and Allen trading leads and Osborne never far behind.
“That bike was absolutely unreal, Braden was drilling it,” said Osborne, who also finished 2nd behind Currie at XTERRA New Zealand last weekend. “I was looking at that back wheel of his and just thinking don’t let it go, that’s my ticket to the front. He was going so fast.”
Allen hit the run in second but Osborne wasn’t far behind, and moved into second somewhere around the 3K mark.
“The swim was alright,” said Allen, who finished in third and top Aussie to win the XTERRA Australia title. “Towards the end of that run the legs were cramping up, I think the effort of laying it down on the bike with Braden caught up with me. I just tried to hang on as long as I could to Sam. Full credit to Braden, he’s a phenomenal athlete, and Sammy too.”
Brad Weiss and Olly Shaw were fourth and fifth out of T2, but Atkinson in sixth posted the fastest run of the day (35:16) to leap-frog past both of them for fourth.
“It’s one of those bike courses where you warm up on it and you think it’s not so bad but then when you start riding it hard every single little step-up and hill kills your legs,” said Atkinson. “These guys make it look easy, riding around in the mud. It’s a bloody fun day. I come out here to have a lot of fun, and try my hardest to keep the deficit as best I can but today Braden and these boys were absolutely flying and caught me very early on. I wasn’t even in the race so I really want to know what happened up in the front.”
Up front Currie was showing what kind of a fast, tough athlete he is. Remember he was the runner-up to Josiah Middaugh at XTERRA Worlds last year, and in doing that he became the only other guy along with Middaugh to upset Ruben Ruzafa in two years of racing off-road. No doubt the Kiwi is looking forward to another crack at the Spaniard and American.
For Bradley Weiss, who held on to 5th by just eight seconds over Shaw, it was a disappointing day.
“I lost too much time on the swim,” said the South African who won the first four races he did this year. “I saw when I was running up to transition that Braden and Sam were together, and knew that Ben and Courtney were together in front of them, and there is a lot of drafting chances on this course and I ended up all by myself. I caught Courtney eventually, but he’s become a much better mountain biker through the years so it wasn’t easy. I’m disappointed in 5th, but the guys up ahead definitely deserved it today.”
After the race Atkinson, a two-time Olympian, told the crowd … “I’d like to congratulate everyone out here today. It’s difficult for me, and for all the on-road triathletes that gave it their first shot off-road today I want to congratulate them. It’s fun, but it’s a challenge. I think we’ll continue to get people crossing over and tying this. People tick off Ironman, tick off Olympic distance and all the rest of them, this is your next challenge.”
For Ben Allen, who worked so hard to help XTERRA establish roots in Australia, seeing the big field of international racers and the great vibe in Callala today made him choke-up a little.
“I’m absolutely stoked XTERRA is here, it’s been a dream come true for me to get XTERRA on the forefront of triathlon within Australia and this event, this day is just awesome,” he said.
|Pl||Name (Bib #)||Time||Swim||Bike||Run|
|1||Braden CURRIE (1)||2:11:46||0:16:57||1:15:49||0:35:31|
|2||Sam OSBORNE (12)||2:13:38||0:16:57||1:18:05||0:35:14|
|3||Ben ALLEN (4)||2:14:47||0:16:06||1:17:56||0:37:12|
|4||Courtney ATKINSON (2)||2:16:30||0:16:12||1:22:06||0:34:38|
|5||Bradley WEISS (15)||2:17:04||0:18:06||1:18:16||0:36:55|
|6||Olly SHAW (3)||2:17:12||0:18:45||1:18:16||0:36:13|
|7||Aiden DUNSTER (8)||2:23:10||0:18:39||1:20:16||0:40:12|
|8||Kieran MCPHERSON (6)||2:24:03||0:18:31||1:21:58||0:39:32|
|9||Brodie GARDNER (5)||2:25:06||0:18:35||1:23:43||0:38:39|
|10||Cameron PAUL (13)||2:25:35||0:18:43||1:21:54||0:41:02|
|Also: Alex Roberts, Noah Wright, Jason Hsieh, Barry Lee, Kaon Cho|
ORCHARD GOES 3-FOR-3 IN 2016
Lizzie Orchard isn’t a surprise winner anymore. Last year she finished an amazing 5th in a stacked field at the XTERRA World Championship. To start this season she won her first XTERRA major in the Philippines, and just last weekend she won the XTERRA New Zealand Championship. Today, she solidified all those results with her third win of the year to take a commanding lead in the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour standings.
“I can’t believe it. I’m still me, it’s just me,” smiled Orchard, an XTERRA Tribe favorite for her big smile and friendly demeanor. “I really like the hot races, and it wasn’t that hot today so I’m very pleased to have a good go today.”
From the very beginning of today’s women’s elite race it looked like the title belonged to Jacqui Slack, who lives and trains with her fiancée Benny Allen just up the road in Wollongong for much of the year.
Slack had the best swim of the day by more than one-minute, and took a minute lead on to the run. Behind her Renata Bucher (who had the fastest bike split of the day, 1:32:20), Lizzie Orchard, and Carina Wasle started chasing.
“There were three or four of us within 40 seconds or so,” said Orchard. “With the long beach section of the run we could all see each other. It was a technical run, and Carina was about 50-meters behind me the whole way.”
After passing Bucher on the sand early in the run, it took Orchard and Wasle until about the 7K mark to catch up to Slack.
“We slowly, sloooowly caught Jacqui,” said Orchard, who had the fastest run of the day (41:14) to take the tape in 2:36:42, just 27-seconds ahead of Wasle (who won at XTERRA Reunion last weekend).
Slack came in third, gutted not to have won it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to win a race so much,” said Slack. “I did everything I could do, I had the best race I could’ve had, the other girls were just stronger today. I held them off as long as I could but they just had that bit on me at the end. They’re both great runners and great athletes, and raced really well.”
Bucher held off a hard-charging Jessica Simpson on the run by just two seconds to finish in fourth, with Simpson taking home the XTERRA Australia title for the second year in a row as the top Aussie.
“I’m super proud of Lizzie,” said Bucher, who recruited her to be on her Aloha Racing Team. “She’s an amazing athlete, and a great person as well. She smiles all the time, and really has a great Aloha spirit.”
|Pl||Name (Bib #)||Time||Swim||Bike||Run|
|1||Elizabeth ORCHARD (32)||2:36:42||0:20:01||1:31:34||0:40:41|
|2||Carina WASLE (33)||2:37:09||0:20:55||1:30:34||0:40:54|
|3||Jacqui SLACK (31)||2:37:40||0:18:37||1:31:33||0:43:16|
|4||Renata BUCHER (35)||2:41:05||0:22:24||1:28:23||0:45:32|
|5||Jessica SIMPSON (34)||2:41:07||0:19:46||1:33:31||0:43:19|
|6||Catherine STERLING (39)||2:45:45||0:19:03||1:38:04||0:43:14|
|7||Sarah BACKLER (36)||2:47:06||0:22:26||1:35:54||0:44:03|
|8||Penny HOSKEN (37)||2:51:26||0:20:45||1:38:24||0:47:04|
|9||Holly KHAN (38)||2:58:40||0:22:14||1:41:15||0:49:29|
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