Enduro in the UK had a bit of a tough year last year, despite the great success of regional series such as the PMBA, POC Scottish Enduro Series and Welsh Enduro Series our eagerly anticipated National series fell flat. Well, it looks like things are turning around in 2017 as last weekend, the Datatag UK National Enduro Championships crowned new British champions in one of the toughest events in the UK so far.

Over 500 racers had attended the packed race village in Graythwaite, all eager to see how they ranked in the UK and try their hand at the monstrous 44 km course. The 10 stages included everything from fast bike park trails including the biggest jumps of any UK enduro so far, to filthy root infested dab fests that got even the most skilled riders hot under the collar. The standard of riders attending was super high. In the women’s field, it was a veritable whos-who of enduro. Tracy Moseley was, of course, the favourite but Trek Factory Racing’s Katy Winton, Becky Cook, and Bex Barona were all hungry to pile on the pressure, and with a course that challenged both rider and bike, nothing was certain. In the men’s field, the big dogs were out in force, Leigh Johnson, Matt Stuttard, Chris Hutchens, Martyn Brooks, Kelen Grant, Joe Connell and much more were charging hard through practice, each and everyone had the skills to take the win.

Sending it towards the finish in practice. This big sender was closed on race day due to wind.
Sam Flockhart and AJ Jones would be looking to do some damage on their Intense Tracers.
Race day means new cleats.
Certainly the most expensive bikes in the paddock.
After a brief shower, the weather was dry and dusty all weekend.
While it may be a new bike, the Wolf Ridge was looking and sounding ferocioulsy fast in practice.
Marin have always had a big presence on the UK race scene.
Would this be another podium for the Wolf Ridge?
Scottish Champion Chris Hutchens gets his Nukeproof Mega ready for battle.
Van life was the order of the day.
Kelen Grant was over from Ireland to throw down with the best of the UK racers.
In the women’s catagory, it would be foolish to bet against Tracy Moseley,
Tracy was supporting her T-MO team racers and protégés. Three racers, three podiums.

The format was more like an EWS than a weekend enduro, taking advantage of the Bank Holiday, the race was a three-day event, two days of practice, culminating in a huge day of racing. The race order was seeded, stage start times needed to be adhered to and transitions were challenging but not impossible – this felt every bit like a national championship should. In fact, speaking to the organisers, the magnitude of the course, the number of marshals and specially trained medics and not forgetting the luxurious race paddock had meant there had been little change from £30,000 to host the event.

It was hard too. The disclaimer in the rider information sheets “Danger! Racing mountain bikes is a dangerous sport. You should assure you’re familiar with the warning signs and tracks should not be hit at race speed until you are comfortable with your ability on each stage.” was no joke, as the course included some of the biggest features so far seen in the UK. The Datatag sender was a big hit with the ariel dogfighters, but after some big crashes in practice and increasing wind, the organisers sensibly chose to remove them on race day. The sniper roots and rock features meant that everyone went down at some point, but there was always alternative lines for those who enjoyed keeping their skin on. 44 km, 10 stages and seven and half hours on the bike, those were the numbers that would decide everything on race day.

The Lake District is one of the UK’s jewels, beautiful regions
Katy Winton was charging hard this weekend, would she have enough to finally beat her mentor? Would the apprentice become the master.
The Junior women’s race was stacked, there is some serious talent on the way through the ranks.
Stage 3 featured some fast and loose Grizedale action. Jim Buchanan hanging onto the Starling Murmur.
But.. it was Stage 5 that had everyone talking, steep and loose.
Wideopens Kelen Grant, had to catch a ferry at 7pm, but still managed to take 3rd.
Dan Hole smashing his way to a solid U19’s win on the HOPE HB211 with added foliage.
The bluebell woods were a stark contrast to the fiercely technical trails higher up the hill.
Katy Winton had to settle for second place, but her pace was on-point, next time.
The women’s race was T-MO’s, her crushing speed and consistency could not be bested on the technical trails.
It was not to be Leigh Johnsons’ day, punctures would take him out of the race, despite two stage wins.
Chris Keeble Smith engaging the foot on the crazy awkward Stage 7. Momentum was everything.
Matt Stuttard was a man on fire, nobody had any answers to his speed.
The stages of Graythwaite packed a serious punch, tough after 10 stages of action.
Matt Stuttard finds out he has done enough.
Chris Hutchens concludes the loop was a two burger affair, happy with his 5th place.
For some of the juniors, it was back to exam preparation.
Something in Welsh probably

After seven hours of racing, the atmosphere was electric as the championship category filed into the arena, each wondering if they had done enough, watching the clock tick as competitors rolled through. The days racing had been extremely tight with almost every racer suffering punctures or mechanicals. As the last rider, Hope Factory Racings’ Matt Stuttard, rolled through the finish gate all eyes were on him, and after a few seconds it was confirmed – he was the new overall National Champion, completing the course in 20:41:13. In the women’s category T-MO Racing’s Tracy Moseley had done enough, but only just. Katy Winton was pacing her second for second on many of the stages, but when the final count was done she had not quite matched Tracy’s pace – but it was close. In the Under 19s, Hope Factory Racings’ Dan Hole took a solid win, joined by T-MO Racings Megan James in the Under 21 Women. Whyte’s Martyn Brooks took an impressive win in the Master’s category on a secret new bike, joined by Roslynn Newman who took a great win in the Master’s women. Dan Bishop took an impressive win in the Vets category, with a time that put him in touch with the elites, and John Cobb took the win in the Super Vets.

Full results can be found here.

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