Ironman: Kiwi title hopefuls Rebecca Clarke, Braden Currie embracing Hawaiian heat at Ironman world champs

The Ironman World Championship returns to its spiritual home of Kona, Hawaii on Friday for the first time since 2019, with two Kiwi hopefuls in the mix. 

Rebecca Clarke will make her debut at the race, while veteran Braden Currie is out to claim that elusive first title in the toughest test Ironman has to offer. 

"It is always a love-hate relationship I think," Currie said of Kona. "You hate the heat when you're there. It adds to the suffering, it increases the suffering so much more." 

The island is the birthplace of the sport and the most unique challenge it has to offer.  

"There's not much that compares to it, and there's just a lot of people that will be happy to be back," Currie said.

It is where the 36-year-old will once again bid to claim the title that's eluded him - as the event returns there for the first time since the pandemic. 

And the Kiwi veteran's confidence levels are high after finishing third in the last world champs in Utah.

Rebecca Clarke.
Rebecca Clarke. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Hopes are high, focus is high," Currie said. "I'd love to step up another step and if not, two. So that's the main focus, I'd love to win." 

While Currie's preparing for his sixth world championships, Clarke will make her long-awaited debut.

"I feel like I've built into the season really well," she said. "It is exciting. I came here as a spectator four years ago, not having raced an Ironman, watching the pro women and the pro men."

She will line up as the only pro Kiwi female on Friday and is itching to tackle the Hawaiian course and its notorious lava fields.

"You're not just racing your competition, you're racing against the elements and how well you can handle those, as well." 

The stage is set for what promises to be a brutal and brilliant return to Kona.