Kona Kings & Queens is a collaboration project with sports photographer James Mitchell to highlight some of the Pros racing in Kona. James supplies his awesome pictures (for more check his Instagram account), I add some data and commentary.
Coming off a great fifth place in Kona 2018, Braden’s 2019 season has been a bit up and down. A third place at IM New Zealand in March wasn’t enough to grab a Kona slot, so he had to race IM Cairns in June even though he had already committed to race Challenge Roth in July. He defended his Asia/Pacific Regional Championship title in Cairns, winning by almost twenty minutes, but then was maybe a bit tired to race well in Roth just four weeks after Cairns. The wheels came off in the last part of the bike, and GI issues forced him to end his race after the first half of the run.
While disappointed with that result, his physical recovery has been relatively smooth: “When you don’t run that marathon on tired legs and just do the 20km at a steady pace, the impact physically isn’t significant. It just feels like it’s been a big training day.” He quickly focused on his Kona build, ending with an all-around solid win at 70.3 Sunshine Coast (4 seconds off the fastest swim, 7 seconds off the fastest bike, fastest run by almost two minutes).
It’ll be interesting to see how Braden is going to race with the experience he gained in his last Kona races and if he will be able to finish even higher up. If everything goes well, he should be in a good position at the start of the run, much like in 2018. If he is then able to run sub-2:50, he would be a strong contender for a podium finish.
This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2019 Rating Report”. The Report also has a detailed description of the 2018 race from Braden’s perspective. You can download your copy here.