Man becomes first Scot to win European Adventurer of the Year

Mark Agnew broke two world records when he kayaked the Arctic Ocean’s Northwest Passage.

Edinburgh man becomes first Scot to win European adventurer of the year after breaking two world records Mark Agnew via Supplied

A man has become the first Scot to be named European Adventurer of the Year after breaking two world records during an expedition through the Arctic’s Northwest Passage.

On October 12, Mark Agnew and his team became the first in history to kayak the route, which stretches 1,600 miles.

It was also the first time the challenge was completed with just human power alone in any type of craft in a single summer.

The expedition took three months, and Mark faced challenges such as 15ft waves, ice traps, and coming face to face with a polar bear.

Edinburgh-born Mark was presented with the award on Tuesday night at the ISPO Munich sports trade fair, and said the achievement felt “epic”.

Mark Agnew and his teammates journey through the Northwest Passage.PA Media

He said: “I’m over the moon. This is such an incredible honour.

“Adventurers have been trying to complete the Northwest Passage by human power for years, so to actually do it feels epic. To have that recognised by the European Adventurer of the Year jury is amazing. I’m so proud.”

The father-of-one joins a list of prestigious list of previous winners including Felix Baumgartner, who jumped out of space, and Kilian Jornet, a world famous mountaineer.

Mark added: “To be on the same list as the likes of Felix Baumgartner is humbling. I remember being glued to the TV as he jumped from space.”

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. The experience was made so much better because I shared it with them.”

Mark joins a list of prestigious list of adventurers. Mark Agnew via Supplied

Mark wins the award having previously attempted to row the Atlantic twice – once in 2016 and once in 2018 – following which, his mental health spiralled.

This inspired the adventurer to raise over £10,000 for Wilderness Foundation UK, a charity that helps people improve their mental health by connecting them with nature.

Mark said: “I was devastated. I had an idea of myself as this hardcore adventurer, and I’d failed twice. I felt
humiliated and the feeling of being pathetic spread into all aspects of my life.

“I realised if I was going to recover and go on adventures again, I needed to change my mindset. Instead of focusing on the world records and the outcome, I had to focus on enjoying the experience and the camaraderie.

“That way, even if we didn’t reach our goal, I still had intrinsic success and could judge success on my own terms.

“It was an obvious charity for me to partner with. Being outdoors was so important to my recovery, and Wilderness Foundation UK helps countless people who would not typically have easy access to nature.

“I wanted to help extend the opportunities I had to others.”

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