Historic four-peat on the cards for defending champion Braden Currie at Ironman Cairns

Will Braden Currie take his fourth Ironman Cairns victory? (Picture: Korupt Vision / Press Release Ironman)

High stakes racing will be the feature of the men’s professional race at this Sunday’s Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns as more than 25 triathletes from around the world go head-to-head for the 2024 title.  

In the men’s professional race, New Zealand’s Braden Currie will aim to be the first professional athlete to secure a four-peat of victories at Ironman Cairns. The Kiwi secured his third title last year on his way to setting a new course best time (7:50:11) and run course best time (2:37:45).  

“Cairns is always a really good race. It’s a challenging swim, and the bike ride is relatively challenging too with the amount of rolling hills in it. But I think for me, it would take really just a good run day. It’s a great fast course and with a good run I feel like I could pull back another victory,” said Currie. 

“I’ve had some great battles in this race, and I believe there’ll be plenty more this year. It actually keeps blowing me away how many young guys are coming through and I think that they’re going to be the challenge, and in the years to come, and they’re racing incredibly well and the joys of also having nothing to lose, “he said. “Then your likes of Mike [Phillips] and Joe Skipper and Matt Burton that will obviously know how to race and we’ll race hard.” 

Currie, who has had some bad luck and frustrating moments in his past few races, comes into Cairns needing a big performance to not only take out another Ironman Asia-Pacific title, but also to secure maximum IM Pro Series points and claim a slot at the 2024 Ironman World Championship, this year in Kona, Hawaii for male athletes. 

“It would be a big relief to put together a big performance. It’s definitely been a pretty frustrating 12 months race-wise. I know that I’m fit and I’m healthy and I’m injury-free, so there should be no reason not to have a good race,” said Currie. “I think I’ll just approach it the way that I always approach a race. I think I’ll go for the best performance that I’ve got on the day and that’ll hopefully be enough to get me the result that I want.” 

One of the young challengers Currie will face this weekend in Australia’s Nick Thompson, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Tuesday. Thompson will be making his Ironman Cairns professional debut.  

“There were a few reasons for deciding to race at Cairns. The main reason would have to be that as the Asia-Pacific Championship, I thought it would be a good opportunity to race at a high level and against a quality field, relatively close to home. It is going to be a bonus that this race is an amazing opportunity to swim, bike and run in a really beautiful part of the world. A successful race for me personally would be to execute a really well-rounded race, be patient and embrace the conditions. Hopefully if I can achieve all those, I can cross the line at the pointy end of the field,” said Thompson. 

Still only in his second year of professional racing, Thompson, from Perth in Western Australia, already has two Ironman 70.3 wins to his name and a podium finish at IM Western Australia in what was his debut professional full distance triathlon.  

Through those podiums Thompson has already qualified for both the IM World Championship in Kona and the IM 70.3 World Championship in Taupō, New Zealand. With both races offering a maximum of 6,000 and 3,000 IM Pro Series points respectively, Thompson decided he was in a good position to give the series his full attention. 

Having finished 15th in his first IM Pro Series race at the IM North American Championship Texas in April, Thompson is hoping to score major points this weekend in Cairns. 

“Having already qualified for the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championship’s before the IM Pro Series was announced, I knew that I was in a good position to somewhat target the series if I found two more Pro Series IM events and one more Pro Series IM 70.3 to race, which I thought was possible given Cairns and also Ironman 70.3 Western Australia were conveniently located for me,” he said. 

“Although my result at Ironman Texas wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, it was nice to race a strong field in some tough conditions and get some points on the board. It was really exciting being part of the first full distance IM Pro Series event and it’s great that these Pro Series races are attracting such strong fields and being broadcast across the world. Ironman have done a great job with the series so far and it’s exciting that it is still only in its early days.  

“I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to win or podium at this race. I was a little bit off the pace in Texas, but I think with a few more weeks of training under the belt and a lot of lessons taken away from that race, I am confident that I will be able to put together a solid all-round performance. I think if every athlete on the start line shows up and has their best day it would be extremely competitive at the top end of the field, but I’m hoping that I will be right there in the mix,” said Thompson. 

British athlete Joe Skipper heads into Ironman Cairns on Sunday in a similar position to Braden Currie, needing a big performance to secure a podium finish and earn him major IM Pro Series points and a guaranteed Ironman World Championship qualification slot. 

“My main goal is to win the race and in the worst case be very close to the first person to get good points for the series and a Kona spot. This will be my last chance to get a Kona spot and also last chance for the Ironman Pro Series after Texas didn’t go to plan, so there’s definitely a lot at stake,” said Skipper. 

“It would mean a lot to be honest to perform well in Cairns, as I feel like I’ve been doing really well in training for quite some time, but I’ve not managed to get a result which shows this, so it would be great to finally show what I can do and a really good confidence booster for the rest of the season.” 

Skipper will line up in Cairns for the first time in his career and says he has already been enjoying all that the tropical destination has to offer. 

“I’ve been to Australia a few times for training and have really enjoyed it, and also have raced Ironman New Zealand three times and on one occasion managed to get the win, so I have had a lot of great memories from this part of the world. The pictures I had seen from Cairns always looked amazing and it’s been on my bucket list for a long time,” he said.  

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here. The training and scenery have been awesome, and Cairns seems like a really laidback place with lots of good cafes and restaurants, so it’s been awesome so far.”  

The deep men’s field features firepower from all over the world, with Arnaud Guilloux (FRA), Mike Phillips (NZL), Gregory Barnaby (ITA), Henrik Goesch (FIN), and Ben Hamilton (NZL) all major international threats, while home favourites Josh Amberger, Tim van Berkel, and Matt Burton will lead the charge for the Australians. 

Below is the male professional start list: 

Bib Number First Name Last Name Country Represented 
M1 Braden Currie NZL (New Zealand) 
M3 Joe Skipper GBR (United Kingdom) 
M4 Nick Thompson AUS (Australia) 
M6 Mike Phillips NZL (New Zealand) 
M7 Henrik Goesch FIN (Finland) 
M8 Josh Amberger AUS (Australia) 
M10 Arnaud Guilloux FRA (France) 
M11 Gregory Barnaby ITA (Italy) 
M12 Ben Hamilton NZL (New Zealand) 
M13 Timothy Van Berkel AUS (Australia) 
M14 Matt Burton AUS (Australia) 
M15  Tuan Chun Chang TWN (Taiwan, Province of China) 
M16 Mitchell Kibby AUS (Australia) 
M17 Caleb Noble AUS (Australia) 
M18 Tristan Olij NLD (Netherlands) 
M19 Andrew Horsfall-Turner GBR (United Kingdom) 
M20 Ben Phillips NZL (New Zealand) 
M21 Edward Vining AUS (Australia) 
M22 Jarrod Osborne AUS (Australia) 
M23 Jason Christie NZL (New Zealand) 
M24 John Thelwell USA (United States) 
M25 Kosuke Terasawa JPN (Japan) 
M26 Levi Hauwert AUS (Australia) 
M28 Michael Tong NZL (New Zealand) 
M29 Nick Carling AUS (Australia) 
M31 Sven Wies DEU (Germany) 
M32 Samuel Doggett AUS (Australia)