Into The Wilde: The Inside Track With Hayden, Former Xterra World Champion
Hayden Wilde has burst onto the scene out of New Zealand into Super League Triathlon (SLT)! One of our youngest stars, he’s currently sitting 5th on the leaderboard taking SLT by storm, and outdoing even his own expectations.
Now Malta has concluded, the SLT train has rolled into Mallorca, and our writer took the opportunity to spend some time with Hayden going into the second of the back to back Championship Weekends. After an early morning run, our man got his breath back and sat down with Hayden for a coffee to discuss all things triathlon and his meteoric rise.
Hayden was keen to share this thoughts on training, race prep, and how he plans to approach the weekend, starting with how he was recovering from such brutal racing in Malta.
“Body wise I’m feeling quite good! I’ve come out quite well amazingly, my only concern would be my injuries from Malta having sustained some carpet burn. I’ve picked up an infection with the carpet burn so I’m fighting against that, and some bruising around the knee. Mobility wise it’s not the best at the moment but hopefully it’ll sharpen up in a few weeks.”
As part of the younger generation from our selection of superstars, Hayden has been the star performer of that group. Fighting at the front in both Jersey and Malta, he’s hoping to carry on that form going into Mallorca.
“I definitely outdid my expectations in Jersey which gave me some more confidence to race harder in Malta. Raced a bit more wisely but also understood that I could challenge the guys at the front. So from the get-go, I knew I just had to bury myself in the water to and make the commitment up the front while holding on as long as I could. So confidence wise, I didn’t feel like an outsider coming into the race. It was unlike coming to Jersey a few months back where I’d thought a top 15 might be nice, and finishing 5th really did exceed my expectations.”
In Jersey, Hayden had the chance to go up against one of his childhood idols in a sprint finish, just beating Mario Mola across the line.
“It was a dream come true, I’m using it as motivation at the moment. The guy is a three time world champ, he’s been there, he’s done everything, and just being there racing against him is a dream come true. I’ve only raced him once before and that was in Hamburg. I still get star struck with guys like him, Vincent (Luis) and (Richard) Murray, I’ve watched them on TV and now I’m racing them. It’s an incredible feeling, being an Age Grouper, but then two years later racing against these guys. It’s insane.”
Hayden had aimed for the Green Jersey post Malta, but was pipped by Richard Murray. Hayden’s fastest bike split was only five seconds slower than Richard’s, so we could see a change of ownership come Mallorca for sure.
“I was told that it was close, my goal for Malta was to get a jersey and I knew the only way I could get a jersey would be through the bike split. It sounds like I was faster on the Saturday but he was faster on the Sunday by a few seconds. Mallorca is hilly and coming from an XTERRA background it reminds me of being on the mountain bike and climbing all day. I like steep ascents and descents, it’s the last race of the season so I might as well take some risks and put it all out there. The goal for me this week is going for a podium.”
Hayden has not followed the standard route into triathlon as he’s got a background in more endurance based racing – XTERRA and 70.3, and he thinks this may give him an edge over some of his rivals of a similar age.
“Maybe coming from an background that started with endurance has helped me become stronger so I can perform better over two days, it’s hard to tell, but if you put endurance and speed together it makes a good combo. I’m still learning my strengths and weaknesses and how best to execute them. I love the racing in SLT, it is everything you want in a race, exciting, fast, tight courses and great for spectators.”
One of the main improvements Hayden has made between Jersey and Malta were his transition times. Transition is key in SLT and he’s adapted a new mindset for the discipline as he attacked the Malta race.
“In Jersey I had good transitions but I felt my T2’s were lacking a little bit under the stress. You drop three seconds in transition before a 1500m run that’s massive. On Sunday’s race in Malta I rethought my process, looked at other athletes, changed a few things and practiced a little bit at night and just before the race. From there I came out of transition in first every time from T2 so just the little things I fixed make the difference. Slow down to go faster.”
It’s not just the racing that has drawn Hayden to SLT, as he finds the entire experience as a whole enjoyable. The week’s build-up and the friendly environment has really helped him tap into the best version of himself come race day.
“I love the whole family vibe and getting into the community, back home the community really backed me and helped me out to get where I am now. I love giving back to the kids now as I know how much that helped me when I was younger. I’m still a young fella myself but I really want to help the younger generation as I go through the sport. SLT ties into that as we get to give back to the community, go into schools, get amongst everything and make that into one package, where other sports don’t.”
SLT gives its athletes the chance to spend time together off the course and provides a laid back environment for them to get to know each other away from the racing in some unexpected environments.
“You meet new people, you get close to people you never thought you would and you have good yarns and a giggle all the time. I don’t have bad beef with anyone, everyone is on such a good level, everyone is loving SLT, and riding the wave. The funniest thing that’s happened in the last two weeks is getting to stay with Tyler Mislawchuk, before this I knew of him and knew he was a good character but now I’ve stayed with him for a week, he’s a laugh and a half. What goes on tour stays on tour. Oh and one more thing – getting named the Maltese Falcon, that’s going to stick for life and I’ve been trying to design a new falcon logo for my tri suit.”
Hayden goes into the Super League Mallorca Championship Weekend riding a wave of confidence boosting performances, where his growing belief in himself and natural talent could see some real results. Can he grab that podium over our two days racing? We wouldn’t bet against it, so you’d better tune in right here on our website to find out!