Swapping Southland for nordic adventure

Fynn Mitchell (left).

NORTHERN Southland teenager Fynn Mitchell has left his family farm for an adventure on a remote island archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The year 13 Southland Boys’ High School pupil took a study break after accepting an invitation to be part of a team to compete in the Nordic Islands Adventure Race in the Faroe Islands, about halfway between Iceland and Scotland.

The 18-year-old was one of four members of United States team Bend Racing, which finished third-equal in a time of 81 hours and 36 minutes on Thursday last week.

Of those 81 hours, the team spent less than five hours sleeping. Because of the lengthy sleep Fynn had after completing the race, the paper was unable to contact him before deadline, but was able to talk to to his parents Michelle and Glen ‘‘Beacon’’ Mitchell on their 500ha sheep and beef farm in Lumsden as the race was under way.

Mrs Mitchell said she had been the most nervous person in her household since the race started.

‘‘On the first day, I saw an interview of an Estonian team, who said the course was steep and dangerous and the race was something you would not let your children attempt and I thought ‘oh, too late for that’, but I trust him — if Iwas lost in the outdoors, I’d like to be with him.’’

On the first day of the race, a social media update from race organisers said the only spectators were sheep and puffins.

Mrs Mitchell said Fynn had raised money for the trip by crutching sheep in his school holidays in Southland.

He also had savings from when he and his younger sister Maisie, 16, leased paddocks from their parents to run a mini sheep farm, doing all the work required, and turned a good profit.

The invitation to Faroe Islands was made possible by Fynn being a member of the Fiordland Endurance & Adventure Racing Society.

His coach and mentor Andy Magness, of Te Anau, had a twin brother living in Bend, a small city in Oregon in the United States, who was short a team member for the race.

The sibling in the States asked Mr Magness if he knew of any male from the society who was capable and could join the team.

Fynn was asked and accepted, making him the youngest competitor in the Nordic race.

He departed Queenstown on Monday, August 7, on his first international trip by himself.

He landed in the Faroe Islands about 40 hours later after transiting in Sydney, Dubai and Copenhagen. Luggage including his mountainbike, packraft and ice axes made the trip with him.

About three days later the race began.

Mrs Mitchell said since an early age, Fynn had liked the outdoors and a challenge, but she blamed her husband for getting him into adventure racing at age 10.

‘‘Beacon would take him on adventures he deemed fun, like running the Kepler Track in a day — I thought they were crazy, but Fynn came home buzzing.’’

At 14, Fynn ran the Dusky Track.

He had completed Godzone twice.

At his first Godzone in 2022, age 16, he was the youngest competitor in its history. He finished the event, but as a team member got injured and did not, the team did not get a ranking.

Fynn’s Godzone team finished seventh in Fiordland in February this year.

‘‘He had a score to settle,’’ Mrs Mitchell said.