World Triathlon Podcast #84: Hugo Milner
Victory in the Miyazaki World Cup saw Great Britain’s Hugo Milner crash-land inside the World Triathlon Olympic Ranking top 100, a climb of 51 places that neatly reflected the manner of the win; coming off the bike 1m12s off the leaders, Milner picked his way through the field before finally reeling in Dylan McCullough to take the gold.
It has been a whirlwind two years for the 25-year-old, who only took up the sport in 2021 after COVID had cut short his time at Harvard University, forcing him to complete the last 18 months of his course from home in Derby. Suddenly the ambitions are Olympic-sized.
A first European Cup outing in Cuelta saw victory, a second crack at the Duathlon World Championships in Ibiza ended in a nasty crash, a first World Cup foray ended with top 10 in Tiszy, before finishing 52nd in Tongyeong even with the fastest run split of the day.
It’s hardly your average intro to the world of swim bike run, but as you can find out on the latest edition of the World Triathlon Podcast, Milner isn’t your average triathlete. Listen to episode #84 on Apple, Spotify and Google.
“It’s been a bit of a crazy journey,” says Milner of his fast-track into swim-bike-run. “Lots of highs, lots of lows. I think it was a big shock to go from running to triathlon and upping my swimming and my biking to the insane hours that triathletes train.”
The win in Miyazaki at least means he is finishing 2023 on a massive high, even if he was straight back into training and a three-hour bike off the back of a 20-hour journey back from Japan. At least there is no longer any need to juggle a full-time job anymore, Milner not regretting having taken the plunge and gone all in on triathlon.
“You’re getting up at 5:30 in the morning, torturing myself swimming for two hours and going to work and then doing something during my lunch break and then going back to work and then training in the evening and then just repeating that every day. So it’s been really tough, but getting the result on Saturday just made all the sacrifice worth it.”
Every race has been a steep learning curve, from honing transitions to nutrition and everything in between. It cost him dearly twice in Spain and Korea.
“In Valencia a few months ago, I hadn’t practiced my nutrition when it comes to doing a 10K off the bike,” Milner admits. “And so I had a gel on the bike and I just got a massive stitch and so I had to walk parts of that 10k, which was really bad.”
Then in Tongyeong, his third World Cup could hardly have started any worse. “I just struggled in the water really, didn’t have the best of swims, but I mean, there were people behind me that eventually made the front pack. So it was definitely within my grasp to have a good race… but I just had a really bad transition. I was lower ranked, I was towards the back, so I only had about 20 or 30 meters to unzip my wetsuit and get everything off and then get onto the bike. I think that’s a weakness of mine at the minute. I need to improve my transitions, it seems crazy that transitions, which are only a few seconds, can change the outcome of a race.”
Heading into Miyazaki determined not to repeat any of those mistakes, Milner may have found himself over a minute off the pace and in the third bike pack, but the confidence that comes with having one of the fastest runs on the circuit meant there was no holding back.
“This time I just took the risk of not having any gels… I just had a bottle of water in my bottle cage and in terms of energy, I felt fine. There was someone shouting out splits each lap. I think after the first I’d taken like 20 or 25 seconds out of the leaders. So, I was doing the calculations in my head thinking,’ you know, it’s three more laps, if I keep doing this I can catch them by the end of the third lap’ and so that’s kind of what happened!”
At 6’4” tall and with no shortage of confidence, after this first two years on the blue carpet it is beginning to look like the sky could be the limit for the 25-year-old, who has clearly also been running the numbers.
“I think Beth Potter said that of all the World Cups and World Triathlon Series races since 2010, the fastest runner has gone on to win in 50 percent of those races. So, I knew this year that I was fairly confident that in some of the races I was going to be the fastest runner. And so I thought statistically, if I do 10 races this, this year, I should really win five… but even if I don’t win five, I might win one. And if I win one, then I’d be happy.”
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