PROfile: Callum Millward

Millward’s rise in triathlon is on par with the growing popularity in his side venture—the YouTube series “Cupcakes with Cal."

Photo: John David Becker

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Kiwi Callum Millward has been a frequent podium topper on the Ironman 70.3 scene lately, first turning heads in America in 2012 with an epic sprint finish with Matty Reed at the Boise 70.3 that resulted in a tie. The 31-year-old has been at it for a decade, starting his career in ITU draft-legal racing before switching to long course in 2012. In 2014, he’s racked up multiple respectable finishes: fourth at Ironman 70.3 Boulder, third at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh and Ironman 70.3 Vineman, and second at Wildflower. Millward’s rise to the top is on par with the growing popularity in his side venture—the sarcastic YouTube series “Cupcakes with Cal,” in which he interviews and pokes fun at other pro triathletes—while eating cupcakes.

“Growing up, I gravitated toward rugby, cricket, cross-country, track running and swimming. Every young boy in New Zealand wants to play for our national rugby team, the All Blacks, so naturally your sporting career begins here, and generally ends during your pre-pubescent years, depending on how many tackles you can take from the Pacific Island kids who are built like brick buildings.”

“I went to college and kind of surfed and mucked around for three years. Once I finished college, I moved to Australia to see what the whole triathlon gig was about. I joined a squad. It was a group of hard knocks. I remember the rate I progressed was pretty quick, but just seeing what the other guys were doing—they could have really good days and really bad days and blow to pieces—and I realized everyone is human.”

“I was in the New Zealand government-funded program headed toward London [Olympic Games] for three years, and I guess I eventually realized I wasn’t on track to make it, so I got out. On the way home from Europe one year, I did a few 70.3 races and I figured it was my calling—I think I’ve always been slow-twitch. I used to think you could sit down on the Ironman crate and have a sort of club sandwich, but it’s so intense now. Especially after London since the new wave has come over—like Tim Don and Jan Frodeno—and now it’s super intense.”
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“I’ll do a full [Ironman] soon. Mostly because some of my mates are doing them. But I think it’s good to maintain some speed as well. Who knows? Cam Brown has been around since the earth started cooling and he’s still going well. He spanks us now and then if we’re not on our game, and he’s 42. But he’s just a hard guy—I emailed him at the start of this year when I was having a few Hail Mary moments, and he said, ‘You know what? There’s no secret to success, it’s just bloody hard work.’”

“There are no real cherry-picking races these days. Once upon a time you used to be able to charter a hot air balloon to Guatemala and do an easy race, but now everyone’s everywhere.”

“Boulder, Colo., has been my summer base for the past six years and is a melting pot of international triathletes. The roads are cycling-friendly, which is a big bonus as I’m not keen on becoming an ornament on the hood of a pickup truck. The outdoors lifestyle resonates well with me—I love to see active people, out hiking, biking, swimming, running from bears.”

“It’s not a crazy lifestyle in Boulder. It’s a lot harder in France and Germany, where there’s a language barrier. Here I have a cool cruiser bike and I’m proud of it. I bought it off of my massage therapist and he just stores it at his house. It’s cool going six months to six months, but it’s kind of hard as well. Because then you don’t have a lot to your name and soon I’m going to have a midlife crisis and want to buy a Harley.”

“Zach Galifianakis does a show called ‘Between Two Ferns’ and I thought I should do something like that. It just kills me when people are really fake. One of the videos I did, I did because the New Zealand team was in Spain and it looked a bit like MTV’s ‘Cribs’—they were blowing their own trumpets, and it was like ‘come into our crib’ and they were in this nice, big house. And I thought, we’re over here bumming it, so I got everyone around to my place to tell it like it is and be a bit stupid about it. I think people like the honesty instead of something that’s unattainable.”

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“I’ve been on both sides of the fence, having been with ITU. One night after [the ITU race in] Kitzbühel, I went out drinking and put photos up on Facebook and people started complaining. ‘What are you doing? You should be racing!’ And now that I’m out of it I can kind of see it. You lose touch with everything really quick. These guys getting a monthly allowance and we’re out here by ourselves. We can compare races, and it’s just as hard as what they’re doing, but I guess it’s the Olympic carrot thing.”

“Most of the homestays are just really enthusiastic. A lot of them will ask, ‘Hey, really glad you’re staying with us—can we get some healthy food in the house?’ And until this year, when I’ve kind of tried to cut out sugar and get rid of a bucket ass, I’ve been like, ‘Yeah let’s get Oreos and gummy bears!’ I’d eat McDonald’s before a race. I have an iron stomach, it doesn’t matter too much.”

“I’ve always enjoyed the journey of triathlon. This may sound like an Anthony Robbins-style motivational speech, but there are so many highs and lows along the way. I like to challenge myself to squeeze a little more out of myself. Other than Xbox, I haven’t found too many other sports where I can be beaten, but find the drive to come back stronger.”

“I really like to smash those stereotypes that you have to be high-strung to be a good athlete. Screw that, you kind of don’t have to. You want to do well, but it’s a journey as well. You want to do cool stuff.”

“I’m here to win Kona. I want to be the first male New Zealander to win. I’ll be doing my first Ironman early next year, and begin my journey. It’s an intimidating race, so I’m heading over this year with my ‘Cupcakes with Cal’ show to film and gain an understanding of the race and circus that surrounds this iconic event.”

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