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Triathlon star Hugo Milner impresses track legend Carl Lewis with cross country victory

An all-time athletics great was on hand to see rising British talent Hugo Milner make his mark in the cross country sphere.

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Redefining triathlon

Emerging triathlon talent Hugo Milner impressed everyone – including the great Carl Lewis – when powering to a clear-cut victory at the Liverpool Cross Challenge this weekend, one of the key fixtures in the British cross country calendar.

Milner switched to triathlon just a couple of years ago and this season notched a breakthrough success when running through the field to land the World Triathlon Cup Miyazaki in Japan last month.

And he translated that form to the off-road event on Saturday, which doubles up as a qualifier for the 2023 European Cross Country Championships in Brussels in December.

Carl Lewis on a scouting mission

Nine-time Olympic champion Lewis, who starred over sprint distances on the track as well as the long jump during a storied career, may have seemed an unlikely spectator but he was there in his role as Track and Field Head Coach at the University of Houston to help distance coach Kyle Gibson on an athlete recruitment drive.

He was also on hand to give out plenty of medals and Milner could hardly have earned his in better style.

He powered round the the 9.8km course in 28:38 to win by 24 seconds from Matthew Stonier who just outsprinted Jack Rowe for second.

And afterwards Milner, who was runner-up 12 months ago, told Athletics Weekly (see embedded tweet below) that his running races now just “feel so easy” given that they are not preceded by a flat-out swim and bike ride!

He said: “It feels great. I wasn’t really expecting to win by that margin but… it was one of those days.

“Since I’ve switched to triathlon, all the run races that I’ve done just feel so easy.

“I’m so used to burying myself on the swim and on the bike and then running a 10k afterwards. And so now just to turn up on the start line and go straight into the run feels good – I feel like I could just go for ages.”

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And speaking later to TRI247, Milner talked us through the race: “I felt really good today from the start and I just started to pile on the pressure on everyone else after the first lap. I didn’t really expect to win in that way but I trusted in my ability and knew that I’d done everything I could in training to come away with a performance like that.

“I think I’ve had my fair share of bad results on this course in the past so it’s really special to finally get the win and obviously qualify for the European Cross Country Championships in two weeks’ time.”

He’ll be looking to improve on last year’s 32nd when he heads to Brussels and he told us: “I’m hoping to learn from all of my experiences in the past – and competing there last year – to try and come away with some silverware, whether that be as a team or individually. I think that would be amazing.

“And also to use this experience to help my triathlon going into next year.”

Hugo Milner Carl Lewis Liverpool Cross Challenge 2023
Hugo Milner and Carl Lewis after the Liverpool Cross Challenge [Photo credit: Steve Milner]

A training camp in Australia early in the New Year beckons for Milner and if his triathlon progress continues it’s not inconceivable that he could become a contender for an Olympics spot for Team GB next year.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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