Growing up Nathan Fa'avae was an adventurous kid, not much has changed there, except now the adventure athlete is a six-time Adventure Racing World Champion and the winner of the Eco Challenge - the world’s toughest race.
Nathan’s mum says he always did spend a lot of time racing around, exploring and getting into stuff outside, he was always keen to check out what was around the corner.
Nathan grew up in Nelson in a sports orientated household, his father was a keen sportsman and his mother always encouraged the family to be active. At school he played traditional sport and it wasn’t until his teens that he started to take a real interest in outdoor sport.
“I started out as a mountain bike racer and then I progressed to the Coast to Coast. I really wanted that next level challenge. It didn’t take me long to realise adventure racing is where it’s at.”
Nathan finds a lot of satisfaction in being in high performing teams, it’s what drives him. He can’t imagine any time or age where he’ll stop what he’s doing.
Even Atrial Fibrillation didn’t stop him. He discovered he had a heart issue when the heart monitor he was using started giving him lots of weird information that didn’t make sense. He thought it was rubbish and threw it away, only to find out, after some tests, that he actually had an irregular heartbeat. Nathan has had two heart surgeries since and so far everything has been going well. It’s definitely not stopping him from competing but as an adventure athlete he knows he has to keep a close eye on things.
Nathan’s brand is not only Nathan as a competitor but also an events company, an adventure tourism business and on top of that he’s always mentoring three or four younger athletes at any one time. Nathan considers his name to be his brand.
“My father is from Western Samoa, so I’m half Samoan and my mother is a kiwi. The reason I chose the plate I did and why I have a personalised plate is because my surname is my brand, it’s who I am.”
Nathan says when he thinks about his name and his plate, he thinks of the islands, his family and his ancestors. It’s his identity, his culture, it’s who he is and why not celebrate that?
Nathan Fa'avae’s journey is far from over, his future involves spending time with family and continuing to be an indomitable force, not only in Adventure Racing, but also in life. That’s definitely something worth celebrating.
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