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Few modern endurance athletes have traveled across wild lands by as many means of outdoor activity as Nathan Fa’avae. Credit that effective movement across various environments and sport disciplines to the home base. Fa’avae lives on the South Island of New Zealand. There, he says locals jokingly liken the area—where it seems nearly all of the island’s one million-plus residents carry kayaks, surfboards, skis, or climbing gear in their cars year-round—to one big adventure club. Fa’avae grew up connected to the outdoors: camping, fishing, diving for food, and cooking over fires on the beach with his family. By his late teens, Fa’avae knew he wanted to be an adventure professional and studied for work as an outdoor educator, learning the ropes in sports like rock climbing, kayaking, and mountain biking (the latter of which he raced semi-professionally, qualifying to represent New Zealand in the 1996 Summer Olympics, though he ultimately did not have the opportunity to compete).

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