How Hattie Harnden pushed herself to new heights in 2023

Hattie got back on the Enduro World Cup overall podium during an eventful year

For the second straight year, Hattie Harnden finished third on the overall Enduro World Cup podium after taking third in Châtel behind French stars Isabeau Courdurier and Morgane Charre. She won a stage as well to cap the season on a high and confirm her place as one of the fastest riders in an increasingly cutthroat pro women’s enduro field. 

Many might have predicted that result at the start of the year, but the season was anything but by-the-book for Harnden. During the offseason, the multi-discipline talent made a conscious decision to forgo XC and cyclocross to focus primarily on enduro and downhill racing. She put together a more gravity-focused training program to improve her high-speed handling and jumping abilities. She took part in DH World Cup racing for the first time — her fourth World Cup discipline — and finished in the top 10 in qualifying, semis and finals in Lenzerheide. She tasted downhill glory when she won the British downhill national title in July.

Hattie contending with the loose terrain in Châtel.

Harnden pushed herself into new territory seemingly every week. She admits that she struggled to reach the top end performance that she achieved in 2022, when she won back-to-back Enduro World Series events in Whistler and Burke, but in its place she put together her most consistent season yet.

“I’ll remember it for that. I only got on the podium twice, and I still finished third in the overall,” Harnden said. “I’m very proud of it in that sense. However, it is always disappointing to not make it onto the podium. So I think it’s going to really make me assess and evaluate what I need to work on.”

Châtel was a brand new course for the entire field, creating a wide open race — no home course advantage to be found. The stages mixed natural and bike park features to test the entire spectrum of the riders’ skills. Unsurprisingly, Harnden’s win came on Stage 2, the longest stage of the day. She racked up five stage wins over the course of the season.

The 2023 Enduro World Cup final overall podium.

“I’m definitely back where I want to be,” Harnden said. “I’m not necessarily feeling 100 percent like myself, but I had moments on Sunday where I really felt like I was back to my old self and I was pushing and I was competitive. I just had that fire back.”

Harnden’s year is far from over. She is headed to North America for the final two Downhill World Cup races of the year — beginning Sept. 29 in Snowshoe, and Oct. 6 in Mont-Sainte-Anne. The year has sharpened her competitive instincts. 

“My lasting impression on the season is holy moly, the women’s field is absolutely on fire at the moment in enduro,” Harnden said. “I think it’s made me appreciate what an amazing season I had back in 2022. So I’m still very proud of my season, even if it wasn’t quite how I hoped. It goes to show how competitive the women’s field is now. Times are so tight. Small mistakes add up to lots of positions lost. You’ve got to be on it all the time. And all the girls are saying the same thing. You’ve got to be pushing 110 percent.”

Hattie added a slew of downhill skills to her quiver this year.

Her final two downhill races will stretch her skills. Snowshoe and Mont-Sainte-Anne are two of the most punishing tracks on the circuit, especially at the end of a long season. If she is able to stay upright, she could have success as one of the gravity scene’s most high-stamina athletes. Harnden has never shied away from a gauntlet.

After the season, she’ll head back to the grind, refining her skills by mixing disciplines and finding any way she can to have a good time on her bike. 

“Downhill complements enduro really well. So to be able to include that in my training as a fun element — it’s almost like a bit of a distraction, something a bit different,” Harnden said. “I’ve always done multi-discipline, so to suddenly just go down to racing enduro and not have an element of something else in there, I think would have been very strange for me.”

Hattie and TFR mechanic Andy Lund all smiles at the last Enduro World Cup race of the year.

Harnden is constantly thinking about how to improve, and the wheels are already turning in her head on how to make next year even better. 

“I’ll chat to my coaches and I’ll evaluate the season just gone, and write some goals for the coming season,” Harnden said. “Make a calendar, make a plan of what I want to do, and all eyes on 2024 to absolutely kill it.”

Hattie at the end of a grueling race in Derby.

Hattie's highlights of 2023

Fighting like hell in Derby in front of her friends and family

Hattie took second place in the second round of the Enduro World Cup, and might have won if not for a mistake on the final stage. Nonetheless, the effort set the tone for a great year.

“I fought really hard that day for the win, and I came up short because of one of my own mistakes on the last stage. But my parents were there with me to see me and watch me all day. And obviously [TFR mechanic] Andy [Lund] was there. And it just felt very special to have those people in my life there who mean a lot to me. And I trained so hard, and I believed I could win.”

Hattie rumbling to a British DH national title.

Winning the British Downhill National Championship

Hattie won a British national title in a third (!) cycling discipline, to go with U23 XC and elite cyclocross titles. 

“We just had a whole lot of fun. And Tahnee [Seagrave] and Phoebe [Gale] were there, so it was a stacked field. And we just went out and did our thing, and we came out on top. And it goes to show you trust the process, you stick to your own process, you don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. And if you believe that you’ve done everything you can do, it will work out. And I think that was a really cool example of that.”

Hattie taking on the DH World Cup stage for the first time in Lenzerheide.

Racing her first ever DH World Cup in Lenzerheide

Harnden went to Lenzerheide and wasn’t phased at all by the high level of competition, placing in the top 10 in all three of her race runs.

“I got to experience that with Andy, someone who’s been a part of the World Cup scene for something like 10 years now. Like he’s worked with other teams in downhill previously. And for me to learn so much from him, and from everyone there, like the whole team, and to go seventh in semis, eighth in qualifying and ninth in the final, that was really, really cool. It felt like a full circle moment, going back to a place where I used to race cross country. It was very special.”