I first met Scott 4 years ago racing one of his races, the sport was still young and the timing was done on stopwatches but the atmosphere and the seamlessly run event was very present.
Since then Scott has been at the helm of Enduro racing in the South, forming the very successful Southern Enduro Series last year as well as being one of the lead trail builders at Queen Liz country Park. This guy keeps himself busy and all for the love of bikes…
We recently Sat down with Scott to get his views on the current state of Enduro racing in the UK and to dig deeper into a brand new event he has planned for this year, the Southern Champs.
First off who is Scott Fitzgerald?
I’m a mountain biker, race organiser and trail builder from Hampshire in southern England.
Do you think being a super keen rider/racer helps with putting on a good event?
I believe it does, it helps you understand the basics of what are the building blocks for a good enduro.
What got you into putting on races?
Trail building! The first race I ran was as a volunteer (QECP Enduro) It was to raise money for trail building at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, all the money went back into the trails. The QECP enduro is now part of the Southern Enduro Series and in its 5th year but all the money raised still goes back in to the local trail network. In 2014 we introduced the QECP day and night enduro once again to raise money for the trail building, This is something I am very proud of and hope it can continue.
The main reason I started the Southern Enduro series was because the local racers were asking for more races. I was blown away when all the rounds sold out in minutes for 2016.
With the BES folding what’s your view on the UK Enduro scene?
Regionally Enduro is very strong with some great series and some unique one off races. The BES never really got going so to the overall scene its a very small impact.
Could you run a national series?
First off that is not going to happen, 6 races a year is currently enough for me. The question is… Is it possible? I believe it is but to big for one person, the travel and logistics are impractical. A collaboration could work, someone from the south of the UK to manage/set-up a southern England and Welsh round then someone from the northern half of the UK to manage/set-up a northern and Scottish round or 2.
So the southern champs… a brand new event in a brand new location… what’s the score?
Yep this one I’m excited about… Exmoor, what a place! When I was offered this venue I couldn’t say no. Hopefully the race is as successful as the others and we can make it a regular venue for Southern Enduro.
Would you want to compare the southern champs race to another one off event like the Ardrock for example?
Well it is a one off event but the good thing about one off events is they are all different. If I had to compare I would say it will be similar format to a UKGE minus Saturday evening seeding. The UKGE format is the best one I have raced IMO.
We Also have a huge marquee with a bar for Saturday evening so it should be a great place to chat about the practice day, line choice, tactics, thrills & spills etc….
Your Southern Enduro races are first class, how will you take that to the 2 day champs format?
As I said before it will be similar to the UKGE format, Arena start and finish, 6 stages, Nice length loops etc…
The Saturday will have a practice/training day then the Sunday will be all about the racing!
What would you say to someone swaying with the idea of the champs race ? sometimes a champs race can be thought of as an elitist event…?
The venue is spot on! Loam, rocks, pine forest, raw and ready. I wish I could race there! Much like the Milland venue its private ‘Event only’ woodland so the opportunity to ride / race here shouldn’t be missed.
Elitist 🙂 I dedicate very little of my time to elite enduro racers, they know what’s going on, they turn up rip it up and amaze all of us average Joe’s. Enduro is for everyone, that includes the champs race. Our fun category is perfect for beginners to test themselves without the pressure of experienced racers behind them.
What will the tracks be like?
About 3 mins long, with a bit of everything from steep tec to short sprints on the pedals. All the stages have a raw and rugged feel, not a trail centre stage in sight.
You have mentioned BEMBA in the past, What is it and how does it work?
BEMBA (British Enduro Mounting Bike Association) started when BC stopped supporting enduro. It consisted of race organisers from across the UK with the goal of have a standard set of rules for enduro and moving the sport in the right direction.
Does it work, Hmmm… well yes. In 2016 we had so many races clashing, BEMBA introduce a share calendar and the result is really good. A lot less clashes across the UK and no regional clashes. We also all follow the rules and standards guide document. BEMBA has some bigger plans in the near future so watch this space.
Thanks for the Chat Scott, look forward to seeing you trail side at the Southern Champs in a few months time.
I would get your entries in quick as Scott’s event’s selling out is becoming a bit of a problem for us riders slow on the up take!
Entries are live now through Moredirt,
Photos from Big Mac Photography,
Interview by Oli Carter