Snow in Wanaka challenges even the world’s toughest multisport athletes at Red Bull Defiance

Freezing temperatures as low as 2°C in the snow covered peaks of Wanaka today, made some unexpected and brutally challenging conditions for the 66 teams of Elite and Amateur athletes competing in the 142km endurance race today, Red Bull Defiance.
 
Local athlete and three time Coast-to-Coast Champion Braden Currie (NZ) and team-mate Josiah Middaugh (USA) managed to defy the odds, completing the two day event in over ten hours (10:22:21), taking home the Men’s Elite crown.
 
“That kind of racing to me is what it’s all about. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.” Says Currie. 
 
“I don’t think I’ve ever raced in such bad weather conditions. When we hit the top of that mountain bike ride it was snowing. It was consistent head wind it was freezing cold.  We were coming off the top of Criffel Peak and I think I was getting hypothermic, my chin was going, but I knew I couldn’t stop. It was a matter of survival.”
Josiah Middaugh and Braden Currie at the finish line of Red Bull Defiance 2017.
Currie’s team-mate Middaugh is the 2015 World XTERRA Champion, and no stranger to an off-road battle.
 
“I came a long way to this race and I know I wasn’t coming here for a cake walk.” Says Middaugh. “I was coming here for a big challenge and it delivered. It was epic out there, everything was thrown at us. Braden helped me through it – this guys the real deal.”
Daniel Jones during transition, second place winner with Alex Hunt.
Currie and Middaugh kept gaining ground when they passed Alex Hunt and Daniel Jones (2nd place) on the 48km mountain bike ride.
 
“It was one of the hardest days racing in my life. The mountain bike was savage.” Says Hunt.  

Partners both on and off the track, Marcel Hagener and Simone Maier took out the Mixed Elite title at a two day total of 12:02:20. Women’s Elite Winners Sia Svendsen and Joanna Williams came in at 13:26:16.

Mixed Elite winners Marcel Hagener and Simone Maier during the tough mountain bike ride.
Partners both on and off the track, Marcel Hagener and Simone Maier took out the Mixed Elite title at a two day total of 12:02:20. Women’s Elite Winners Sia Svendsen and Joanna Williams came in at 13:26:16.
 
Day two of Red Bull Defiance saw competitors paddle from the shores of Lake Wanaka to the mouth of the Clutha River – the 6th fastest flowing river in the world. After a skill test shooting clays, they commenced an epic mountain climb up to the Pisa Range via Criffel Station. This was where competitors first hit thick mud, and then to their surprise – snow, in what is supposed to be the height of summer in New Zealand.
 
Transitioning into the final run, which had to be cut down by 11km to avoid the worst of the deeper snow over the summits of both Mt Alpha and Roys Peak, competitors were faced with frozen hands and some teams needed assistance to take off their helmets and zip their jackets on.

 
Competitors fight for the lead during the first stage of day two.
2nd place Men’s Elite winner Daniel Jones summaries the day.  
 
“This Red Bull Defiance was twice as hard as last year, but still a lot of fun. Every one that comes in across the finish line now deserves a bloody good congratulations for even making it here.”

 
Braden Currie and Josiah Middaugh traversing the beautiful skyline final run.
Final Results
142km race (originally 153km)
 
Men’s Elite Winners – Braden Currie (NZ – Wanaka local) and Josiah Middaugh (USA)
Total two-day time: 10:22:21
 
Women’s Elite Winners – Sia Svendsen and Joanna William
Total two-day time: 13:26:16
 
Mixed Elite Winners – Marcel Hagener and Simone Maier
Total two-day time: 12:02:20
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