Scott Anderson: Racing Without Regret

In the heart of the Harz mountains in Germany, Scott Anderson is researching phosphorus dynamics during catalytic n-butane oxidation—he’s also sending it down the trails and rising in the World Cup rankings. The 28 year-old has been a regular on the pro XTERRA circuit since 2022 but this season has seen a different Anderson: a racer who is knocking on the door of the world’s best.

Written by
Sarah Bonner
min read
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The Road to Off-Road

Scott Anderson’s breakthrough into the top rankings of the XTERRA World Cup didn’t happen by accident. He began racing triathlon as a young teenager, giving him plenty of time to develop a competitive streak as he progressed further in the sport. By the time he started his tertiary studies in chemical engineering, he had already stepped up his racing to a national level. While a few off-road triathlons had made their way into the German athlete’s race calendar at the time, his focus was predominantly road triathlon, more specifically, the short course format. But that all changed when he moved out of the city and into the mountains. 

Boasting some of the highest elevations in the region and no shortage of trails, the Harz mountain range in Northern Germany quickly became a big influence for Anderson and his racing career. He started picking up the mountain bike more and more and after a just short space of time, his focus had shifted almost entirely to off-road tri. Spending just one short year in the age group category, Anderson made the jump to elite and began climbing the ranks of the XTERRA pro circuit.

Continually stepping up his racing game since a young age, 2024 may have seen the most significant jump yet with Anderson now knocking on the door of the top 10 off-road triathletes in the world. Fully committed to the 2024 World Cup, Anderson opened his campaign this year with an 8th place finish in Taiwan - his second highest XTERRA result, but arguably his best performance given the field he was up against. 

“It’s partly to do with dedicating more time to the sport and focusing on XTERRA 100%.”

“During the pandemic, my focus shifted towards XTERRA. At the same time, it was the first time ever I actually started working with a coach. Before that, I just did what I felt like for like 10 years.”

Working with a coach revolutionized his training. Learning training methodology and being more in touch with the elite community, Anderson soaked up knowledge on every part of pro racing. But it wasn’t just new information that led him to better performance, it was a new attitude. 

“I think the main thing that's happened is that I realized this is going alright. I enjoy racing well and performing well so then I keep dedicating more and more time to it and that just seems to pay off.”

Payday came again in Greece where he finished in 11th and he earned enough points to secure 8th in the overall World Cup rankings



More on the Pedals

Anderson is pleased with his results after the first two stops of the series, with the big goal now being to keep his place in the top 10. He knows that a large part of achieving this goal will require more focus on his bike performance. Coming off a longer winter than most, Anderson admits his technical skills may still be thawing. 

“There is a bit of a lack of skills coming into the season. Obviously in the winter when we have snow and bad weather here, there's no good mountain bike riding. So I’m trying to get out on the mountain bike as much as possible.”

More training outside will allow Anderson to freshen up his handling skills but so will his new bike. Switching bikes between Taiwan and Greece, Anderson is now riding a brand new Orbea set up with added travel for faster descents. 

“I'm always a bit more defensive on the descents…I ride like a granny, basically,” he laughs. “I'm a bit afraid of crashing and killing myself. But the bike feels a lot better downhill because it has more travel so that's quite nice and I've adapted to that.”



Chasing the Pack

With increased time in the saddle and more time adjusting to the new bike setup, Anderson now hopes to be better positioned during the bike segment of the race. In Taiwan and Greece he was isolated on the bike, riding most of the section alone. Looking ahead to Oak Mountain, he wants to change that. 

“It would be beneficial to try and go with a group and go with the flow, maybe push a bit over threshold at times just to stay with those groups. I'd like to try that in Oak Mountain.”

“It would be beneficial to try and go with a group and go with the flow, maybe push a bit over threshold at times just to stay with those groups."

“It would be cool to race together with Kieran McPherson, the Kiwi guy. Sebastian Neef as well. He's very strong on the bike. Usually he just rides past me, but if I have a good day I can stick with him. And then Federico Spinazzè, the Italian. We're always kind of on the same level. If he has a bit of a better day, then he's out ahead, like in Greece. But in Taiwan it was me who was a bit ahead.”

“It's really hard to plan races ahead like that though because, especially in XTERRA, the way the courses are laid out and the intricacies of the courses really determine race dynamics. From what I've seen, I reckon Oak Mountain is a course where you could benefit from riding in a group.”



For the Love of Suffering

Anderson might be working on his bike skills, but it isn’t exactly a weakness of his. Neither is the swim or the run. Anderson is a true all-rounder with the ability to keep pace with the front of the race through all three disciplines. 

“Something what works to my advantage is that I'm a well rounded athlete. I’m not the last to come out of the water; it's not like I can swim really well, but then die on the bike immediately. If I have a good race, I can have a good swim, be able to stay with the groups on the bike, and then I have the run legs to finish it off.”

“I quite like to give myself a beating, so to speak."

What really gives Anderson his ticket to the top 10 is a trait that so many at the top of the sport seem to share: a slight penchant for a healthy dose of suffering. 

“I quite like to give myself a beating, so to speak, to see how hard I can push myself. I think it can work to my advantage, especially in a race like Taiwan when it's long and it's hot and it gets tough.”



No Regrets

Anderson’s ability to be uncomfortable isn’t just an asset on the race course. Working full-time toward his PhD in Chemical Engineering and pursuing professional sport is not an easy balance and a lifestyle many attempt but few can manage. 

He fits in his training before and after work, often squeezing in a run during his lunch break. Add in travel for races and his schedule is more than jam-packed, but that’s not a discomfort that Anderson minds. Missed opportunity is what really pains him. 

“I decided this year to see if I can do all of the World Cup races, just to see what happens. It costs a lot of money, it costs a lot of time, it's a lot of effort, but I think it would have been easy for me to say: ‘there are other stronger guys in there, there's no chance or no point in trying in the first place.’ I think in the long run that would have been a really poor attitude towards it and would certainly lead to regret later on.”

"I want to see how far I can push it with the sport. There's always time to catch up on your career.”

He plans to complete his PhD this year and while that opens the opportunity to pursue sport full-time, it also ushers in the pressure to work a standard, no doubt less flexible, full-time job. 

“I know my ‘comfortable’ time of being able to juggle training with my work is probably coming to an end within this year and then I have to figure out what happens after that. I'm not sure yet what that means in practical terms. I want to be happy, certainly, and not look back at where I was or where I am now in ten years time and regret that I maybe made the wrong choices. I want to see how far I can push it with the sport. There's always time to catch up on your career.”



Waffles for Breakfast

Tough practicalities aside, Anderson’s breakthrough performance is only one of the perks that keeps him on the XTERRA circuit. 

“I just get a lot of joy from going to the races. I've met so many new people, in the World Cup last year and especially this year, and we’re all kind of made from the same wood.”

“A special note about XTERRA is the amount of cool places that you get to see. I've been to Romania, Taiwan–never in my mind would I have thought to go to Kenting in Taiwan, which is in the middle of absolutely nowhere, but it's such a beautiful place.”

Anderson has been to the USA twice before but never to race. But his trip to Oak Mountain for stop #3 of the World Cup won’t just be for a result or the series points. 

“I'm quite happy to see a bit more of the US, have a good time with my friends and see how well I can do the race, how hard I can push myself, and hopefully have a good result in the end as well.”

“And maybe eat chicken and waffles for breakfast—but after the race.”

You can hear more racing (and post-race meal) stories from Scott Anderson in the Cross-Tri Tales vidcast, or watch him race Live at Oak Mountain for stop #3 of the XTERRA World Cup. The Oak Mountain Short Track race will be livestreamed on YouTube, with the action set to start at 09:00 Central Time on May 19.  











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Author Bio

Sarah Bonner

Sarah Kim Bonner (MA, PGDip, BA Hons) is a Canadian freelance writer, graphic designer, and professional triathlete. She has worked as a creative for over 10 years, specializing in written storytelling within endurance sports. Emotionally allergic to an office 9-5, she has lived and raced all over the world from the Arctic to Africa and now calls the Canary Islands home. Find her at or @sarahkimbonner.

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