Taupo Ultramarathon 100km 2017

“I don’t even drive that far…” – This was one of the responses I had yesterday at school when a friend found out I had finished a 100km race on the weekend. It was funny to hear this in a schoolyard conversation when it’s also a household joke between myself and dad!

Last year as I finished the 50km event at Taupo I was asked whether I’d ever think about stepping up and taking on the full 100km event. Me being me, of course, said yes and I made it a goal for 2017. Some might say that at such a young age this sort of distance is unhealthy or dangerous, yet I was keen to prove them wrong and have a proper shot at finishing this race.

The race started in the cold on Saturday at 6am in Waihaha Carpark. The field of over 100 runners all stood shivering under the Hoka One One startline and were all ready to embark on their own personal journeys. Some of these runners would smash the course out in under 9 hours, others would be out all day and finish in 18-19 hours. Regardless of how long it was going to take each person, all were there for a pretty similar reason. To get from Waihaha Carpark to Whakaipo Bay and complete the ultramarathon!



Ed, dad and myself at the start line!


As a young runner, I do have a tendency to start off fast, and so when the race started, dad ensured that I started off at a slow pace. It is extremely hard to run this slow on a lovely trail, especially when you have people so much older than you passing constantly! One of dad’s tips for the race was that ‘you can’t bank time, but you can bank energy’. Meaning that if I went out too fast, I’d blow up by 50km’s and have to walk the rest of the way to the finish line. Instead, I should run conservatively for the first few hours and so when I got to 50-60km’s I would have enough energy to continue at the same pace or faster to the finish line.

Initially, dad was going to run the first 10km’s with me at around a 7-min/km pace, but this didn’t end up being the case. We actually ran about 38km’s together. In fact, we covered the first 27km’s of trails together, followed by most of the farmland section. This was a nice way to begin the day and it helped me set up the rest of my race. But at about 38km’s as I went through a low patch, dad decided to push on in his own race and leave me to experience the highs and lows of a 100km race.


Still together at 32km’s!

The farmland section finished at 42km’s and from there it was a short run to the aid station at 44km’s. Here we would be turning onto the road section of this race, a 6km stretch of windy road. Beforehand, I had thought that I wasn’t going to like this section and I had this picture in my mind of myself walking it. Luckily, this wasn’t the case and I enjoyed it. It was a chance to speed up slightly, prepare myself for the halfway point of the race and to pace off another lady who was running the race (I think her name was Billie). My feet were feeling sore after 50km’s of hard trail and road, so at the halfway point, I decided to change into a pair of road shoes! I also replenished my supplies and made sure I had my trucker cap with me.

From here the trail followed a mountain bike track back down towards the lake. Another running buddy, Matthew Orange, ran with me for a couple of km’s and it was nice to be able to experience a change in scenery, after spending hours running through farmland and on roads! It was around lunchtime when I reached the 60km mark and the bush started to really heat up. Even though the temperature was only about 22 degrees Celcius, it did really feel like it was at least 25-26! After downing a couple of cups of coke and electrolyte drink at the aid station, I continued on and started the big climb over the hill to Kinloch. On this climb, I started to realise why it was so important to start so slow and conserve energy in a race as long as 100km’s. Over the 10km’s to Kinloch, I probably passed at least 10 runners who were all competing in the same race as me!


Pushing through 55km’s feeling good, but wasn’t enjoying the heat!

In Kinloch, there is a small 4km loop that runners must complete. Although some may dislike this sort of thing in a race, I found that this loop was a great time to reset my thoughts and get ready for the final push to the finish line. I sped up and spent as little time in the final big aid station in Kinloch, as possible! I was also informed that at the halfway point I was sitting in 44th place. Not that this should matter during an ultra and with 24km’s still left, it should really be meaningless. Yet I calculated that by 75km I was probably now sitting around 30th place.

From Kinloch, I started the final climb up onto the headlands above Whakaipo Bay and the finish line. This was by far the hardest part of the race, due to cramp and tiredness. I was in autopilot mode and fully focussed on getting to the finish line. I spent about an hour shuffling along with a few guys who were racing the 100km’s as well. All of us were experiencing similar pain and were focussed on getting to the finish line. I stayed with these other runners until about 88km’s, where I discovered possibly a third or fourth wind. With 12km’s to go I decided to just try running, and slowly I picked up the pace. At the 92km aid station, I refilled with water and then continued running the final 8km’s down to the finish line.

The final part of the race was a mixture of up and down trails that brought us down to a gravel road, 1km from the finish line. With such a short distance to run, I picked up the pace and enjoyed the final few minutes of the race. It was an incredible moment running towards the crowds with the sun shining down, and knowing that I was finally about to finish. Then, just after 6pm, I crossed the finish line in Whakaipo Bay.


Feeling a mixture of pain and glory as I crossed the finish line…

I finished the Taupo Ultramarathon 100km in 12:10:12 hours! Not quite my goal of under 12 hours, yet I couldn’t be more happy with my time! I placed 16th overall in a highly competitive field of well over 100 competitors and I won the under 20 category! I’m also now the youngest person to ever finish a 100km trail ultramarathon in New Zealand. I couldn’t be more pleased with how my race went. For me, it seems that it was one of those races where everything went perfectly. Throughout the day, it all seemed to work like clockwork!

I was also super happy to hear that dad had finished earlier in a time of 10:42 hours and this had put him in 6th place! He had sought redemption on his race last year and he’d well and truly received it! You can find his blog post about his experiences in Taupo, here. Also well done to dad’s old schoolmates Paul and Ed! Paul had a great day finishing his first 50km, while Ed, unfortunately, had to pull the pin in the 100km at Kinloch – still, a massive achievement!



Little bit dazed at the finish line

So, there you go! That was my experience at the Taupo Ultramarathon 100km. An incredible race that is put on by the awesome TotalSport team! I’m now looking forward to resting up for a few days, before taking on my final race of the year; the Krazie Kapers 25km here in Christchurch!

Thank you for following my journey throughout my training and this race. It’s always motivating to have so much support for what I’m doing, and all the comments always mean a lot! Thank you to the TotalSport team for another great event, and to dad, Ed, Paul and Gian for a fantastic weekend!

Also thanks to OSM for supporting me with all my racing! These guys always have my back! You can find all the details about my racing and training on my social media channels. Find me on Facebook or on Instagram! Also, you can find the Strava details for my race, here (yes, the trace is a tad shorter than 100km, but this is because the course is measured on a wheel to exactly 100kms!).



Hanmer Old Forest 100 – 50km

After recovering from little training on my school Service Trip to Cambodia, it was time to take on my next race of the year. This time it would be closer to home and not such a stress of having to fly to our destination! Thursday night came around and I was packed for a pretty crazy weekend! I myself would be racing the Hanmer Old Forest 50km and my dad would be competing in the 100-mile race at the same event! Both these races were part of one of Heath Lunn’s, St James Mountain Sports events!

Starting on Friday morning I would crew my dad for the first part of his race until 10pm that night, before mum and my younger brother would come up to Hanmer and take over my job (I needed at least 5 hours sleep before my race). I won’t give away the details about dads race, however, I do suggest after reading this you go and see his blog post here! All I will say is crewing him was relatively successful and it was great to do a 10km lap of the course with him in the afternoon as a warm-up for my race the next day!

Anyway, on to my race! The race was run on 10km laps that were in a figure of eight. This meant that we’d complete the 50km course after 5 laps and that we would be passing the aid station roughly every 5km’s.

After waking up at 4:30am in the morning to see dad finish his event I spent the rest of the morning sitting in the aid station tent close to the gas heater. My race didn’t start until 9am, so this gave me a lot of time to eat breakfast, get ready and get myself to the start line. Breakfast was an OSM and a banana. I hoped this would give me enough energy for the first couple of laps of the race so that I didn’t have to always stop!


The race begins! Starting out slowly in the bright yellow jacket!

At exactly 9:01am, Heath looked at his watch, checked everyone was ready and started the race. Our first half of each 10km lap would follow a series of trails through the beech forest roads and tracks, winding their way around a loop with very little climbs or descents. From the start, I eased into a good pace and led the race. Surprisingly, after only 5km’s I had built a lead by about two minutes. Dad who was relaxing and watching my race felt as if I’d gone out too hard, and when I passed him at 5km’s he blurted out, “Remember this is a 50km race”!

The second part of each 10km loop came past the aid station before winding around a park and climbing up a small hill. Roughly a 150-metre climb, it took us to the top of a small hill, where we would continue down the other side and then along a range of single trails back to the aid station. These 10km loops were really enjoyable and they were great as there was a mixture of different terrains on them. I enjoyed going into the climb leading the race, knowing I had time to take it easy and not burn myself out. From here I eased down the single track towards the aid station. I was met by my brother, Omri who would be crewing and helping me out during my race. He told me I had now stretched my lead to 4 minutes, this excited me and after downing some water and having a few lollies I left quickly.

The second and third loops went like blurs and very soon I was at the aid station having completed 30km in about 2:45 hours. For 50km on trail, I was happy with this time and I was on track to complete the 50km’s in under five hours. But sometimes when things feel as if they are going best, the bad things can happen. As I slowed down to grab a bar and a drink at the aid station my quads locked with cramp and I couldn’t move. I was gutted and worked as quickly as possible to stretch them and get as much proper food as I could into my body. I was hoping this would replace my energy and salt stores and prevent me cramping anymore.



30km’s in and trying to sort a few leg cramps!


I spent three minutes at that aid station and when I left I knew that I would have to work hard on the next lap to keep a good lead on the guy in second! The next 5km segment, however, was a ball of pain. At 32km, I cramped so bad again, I had to stop and stretch while eating the OSM I had brought with me on this lap. As I looked up, my stomach dropped, I saw the second-placed runner come around the corner and speed past me at a blistering pace! How own earth was I suppose to catch him? I thought to myself. I continued on the lap and made it into the aid station hurting.

Leaving the aid station, the new leader had more than a minute on me and was running strong with his mate who was pacing him. I knew that I would need to go above and beyond to come even close to catching him before the finish. Over the climb and down the hill to 40km’s I put as much effort in as possible and yet it wasn’t enough. He now had over three minutes lead on me and I was giving hope. Omri gave me the run down of what to do in the aid station and I exited with 57 minutes to run the last 10km’s in (easy huh… maybe not after 50km’s!).

The half lap from 40km’s-45km’s wasn’t pretty, and I’m pretty sure the only thing that got me through it was the thought that I wouldn’t be running there again and every tree I passed and step I took was one bit closer to the finish! At 45km’s Omri told me I had made up time (I didn’t understand this…) and I was only down one minute now and he (the leader) looked as if he was struggling. This gave me hope and as I left Omri walked with me and sent me off shouting, “Dig deep, do you want this? You can do it”. He was right, as I made my way around the park I saw him in the distance and immediately my pace quickened and I felt a rush of adrenaline going into the last climb.

Up the climb, I seemed to gain time quickly and was great to have a quick chat on the way up, with Kerensa who was competing in her first 50km ultra (well done!). By the top of the hill, I was within earshot of him and I knew that the last 2.5km’s would be a challenge. A challenge it was, and after 50km’s, running at speeds of 13-14 kilometres per hour for about 10 minutes was pretty sore! But finally, after 50km’s, we were approaching the finish line. Now within 25 metres of each other, it was a sprint finish.



Nearly there…! Putting the hard yards in. 10 metres to go!


Never have I ever seen a 50km race come down to a sprint, and a good one it was! Unfortunately, today wasn’t my day and I couldn’t get ahead quick enough for the win. I took 2nd overall and 1st Under 18 male in a time of 4:57:44 hours, just three seconds behind first place! Obviously, I’m gutted that I didn’t get that win, but at the same time, I’m stoked! To take second place in an event like this at only 17 years of age is great! Maybe the win can wait for next year!

So that was my 50km race! I’ve recovered well and after taking a few days to think about it, I’m pretty happy with my efforts over the weekend! I’d like to thank Heath and the team at St James Mountain Sports for another great event, and to those on Instagram and Facebook who supported me over the weekend – it really helps! Thanks also to OSM NZ for looking after me always, you guys are great, your support is incredible and your bars keep me going (www.osm.nz/yonni)! Finally, to Dad, Mum and Omri. Your support and funding keeps me going and thanks for all the help crewing me over the weekend!



Talking it through with the coach!


From here, I’ll be training a bunch leading up to my big race of the year in Taupo, in October. Bring on the Taupo Ultramarathon 100km!

2017 – Where has it gone?!

It feels weird writing a blog post in April when it really feels like the year hasn’t even started! It’s about time I caught you up with what’s happening in my world and how the trail running is going.

So if I take you back to February, you’ll remember I had the Old Ghost Ultra 85km on the West Coast of New Zealand. I’ve never run a race on this side of the island, so it was a new experience. The race would follow 85km’s of single track bliss that had been built over a period of 36,500 man hours. It was astonishing running along the trail as we pictured what once was an old mining track between two villages.

The race started early in the morning and we were all off on our own adventure. Early on in the first 17km’s, I made a few mistakes which would come back at me 50km’s further into the race. A mixture of dehydration, trouble with keeping food down and the humidity, all led to a tough race. Originally, I had, had my eyes on a sub 10.30-hour finish. However, with the mistakes I made, that time was out of reach.

I focussed and pushed myself up and down the hills and came into the finish in Lyell in a time of 12:23 hours. I was stoked to finish and this put me in 2nd place in the Under 18 category. Sure I made some mistakes and didn’t finish the way I wanted too, but I was happy to get to that line and I knew it was one step further to my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal for 2017 is to finish the Taupo Ultramarathon 100km. Not only would this be a great accomplishment for my career in ultra-trail running, but it’d also make me the youngest person in New Zealand to ever finish a 100km race!

After a few weeks of training, I found myself at the start line of the Arrowsmith Mountain Marathon. I was hoping to forget the demons of the Old Ghost, and prove to myself that I had it in me! From the start, we followed a series of gravel roads and farm tracks over mountains and along rivers. The scenery was incredible, however, the rocky scree did take a toll on the body! But this time I finished well! I won’t forget the feeling of coming through the finish line – I’d left the demons behind and finished well. I came through in 18th place overall, 1st Under 18 and in a time of 4:37 hours. Not bad for 1300m of climbing over 42.2km!

So that is where I am in terms of racing for the year. I’m heading away overseas on a school trip for a few weeks, so I’ll just be focussing on as much training as possible!

In other news:

As I look for new goals to pursue, I decided to apply for the Salomon Running Academy 3.0 2017. This academy is run by Salomon’s pro-trail runners and it looks to teach young trail runners many skills both on and off the trail. It also introduces young runners to what goes on behind the scenes at Salomon and how the gear is made.

To be a part of the Salomon Running Academy 3.0 for 2017 would not only top off my season, but it’d also help me develop as a young trail runner. I see it is an opportunity to not only develop skills and meet new people but to develop myself into the best trail runner I can be. It’d also play a massive part in becoming the youngest New Zealander to ever finish a 100km race. This academy with be an incredible motivation for me and would give me the ability to learn new skills that I can put towards my trail running career.
As part of my application, we are required to make a video about ourselves. I’ve gone ahead and made one, and I’d really appreciate it if you gave up a minute and a half of your day to view it. Also, if you want to share it, feel free too! It’s something that is very important to me and I really would love the opportunity to attend the academy in Austria this year! You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOYOYoCWTbE

Other than that, that’s me. As I write this I’m on my way to the airport. Tonight I’ll fly out to Cambodia with 15 friends from my school. Over the two and a half weeks we are there, we’ll do some sightseeing, community service in the poorer parts of the country, and I’ll make sure I get some running in! You can follow my adventures on my Facebook page or on Instagram!

St James Stampede Ultra 60km

Well, yesterday I competed in the St James Mountain Sports Stampede Ultra. Originally this race was going to be 50km’s, but due to the ‘weather-bomb’ that had hit the South Island and raised the rivers, the race was changed to a different course which was 10km’s longer.

After just returning from a holiday overseas, both dad and I were a little apprehensive about this race as our training leading up to it wasn’t too ideal! It’s hard to find trails in a country full of roads and deserts! We entered anyway with the thought that it would also be a good test for the upcoming Old Ghost Ultra 85km at the end of February.

After a quick visit to registration in the township of Hanmer Springs on Friday night, we made our way up to the St James Homestead where we would spend the night. Gear ready, alarms set, we settled down for the night. It only felt like a couple of minutes, but 7 hours later we arouse to the dark and cold morning. Breakfast was half a watermelon and an OSM bar each – I honestly think that this is the perfect breakfast before an ultra!

Friends of ours, Stephanie and George were racing as well. George in the Stampede 60km and Steph in the Homestead 20km. We met them on their way up to the Stampede start line and caught a ride in their warm car. In the cold, we waited, making nervous trips to the toilet and quick checks of the DOC map in the car park! It was also great to meet Ian and Emma who were participating in both the 60km and the 20km!



Dad, myself and George at the start of the race! Photo: Stephanie Grace Berry

Then, like that, the race started. It seemed slow to start off with, but within the first 5kms, as we started the climb up Mailings Pass the runners started to spread out. As we made it over the pass, the St James valley showed it’s real beauty as the mountains stood above us in the clouds. We followed the four-wheel drive track down from the pass, along the raging river and into the first aid station at 17km. By now dad had a five minute lead on me, and as I came into the aid station they told me “…he was gonna wait, but thought he might prove his manhood first…”! I chuckled and continued running!

From here we followed the river for 25km. Passing huts, crossing bridges and even climbing steep hills – the legs were starting to hurt! By 30kms into the race I’d worked out that I was in 6th place out of 20 runners, which I thought for a 16-year-old, wasn’t too bad. It’s amazing what you can occupy your mind with for 3 hours!



Some of the amazing scenery along the way. Photo: James Crockett – https://www.facebook.com/hillfox6/?fref=ts

With many huts and bridges along the way, it was perfect to fuel up with an OSM (mostly chocolate… sometimes apricot) every time I arrived at a different landmark! It seemed to work well and I never felt too hungry! The landmarks included swing-bridges over the raging river, huts and even very steep climbs!

With the change in course, St James Mountain Sports had set up an alternative finish at 45km for those who didn’t want to continue and finish the full 60kms. After a steep climb, an aid station and a swing bridge, I arrived at the 45km finish in about 5:10 hours and 6th place. With the option of finishing here, I asked to see how many in front of me had continued to finish the full 60km. The answer? “Just your dad…”. And so I was the second person to continue in the full 60km ultra.

It was a hard slog along a four-wheel drive track to the last aid station where I found dad had waited for me. He asked whether I still wanted to continue… Of course I did! It was only 7km’s to the finish and there was a pretty good chance to claim my first overall win of an ultra. We climbed up Bull Gully and slowly made our way down to the Homestead. Yellow bibed (Stampede 60km Ultra) runners were slowly creeping up on us, and we both broke into a slow jog for the last 3kms to the Homestead.


Finally, after 60.5km’s, 1000 metres of climbing and 7:29:28 hours we both came into claim 1st place equal in the Stampede 60km Ultra. What a day! My longest run to date and my first outright win of a race (with my No. 1 training partner)!



That’s the story. Photo: Yonni Kepes

And so just like that… Another event finished and I can now move my focus on to the next one. That is the Old Ghost Ultra in one months time! Thank you to OSM NZ for their support with my racing – your bars really do make me go that extra bit further! Also thanks to dad, St James Mountain Sports, Stephanie and George, James Crockett for the photos (check out his Facebook page) and everyone who helped put on the race. What a day… Here’s to next year!

P.S. Here’s the Strava stuff for those who want to have a peak: https://www.strava.com/activities/838736344









Taupo Ultramarathon 50km 2016

Taupo you beauty! Last weekend I took part in the Taupo Ultramarathon.

taupo_ultra_2016_010214Being the inaugurals, we were the first to take on this amazing, well-organised event! Everything down to the finer details was in place, and it all showed on race day! Being a ‘spring chicken’ I was a novice to ultras, and therefore took part in my first 50km race.

The day started out with drizzle and light winds – Pretty much a perfect race day… Well, sort of! Dad had mentioned something earlier about taking it easy, but knowing me I took off. I felt great so I just ran. The first 10km’s was stunning, we made our way down through the bush on winding single track to Lake Taupo. The first aid station was quiet, but a nice place to pause and take my jacket off.

Unfortunately, I did start a little fast, and found myself struggling is we hit the first hill. But I found my feet and eventually I made it into Kinloch, the halfway point. A lovely little town, with lakefront views and excellent aid stations. It was only halfway, with the majority of ‘climbing’ to still be done, but I felt relatively good!taupo_ultra_2016_011558Being a young one, the medics were worried, but I told them I could handle myself and I made my way along the streets of the lakefront town onto the climb. The climb was long and gradual, but after a bit of running and power hiking, I made my way to the second to last aid station tucked away in the bush.

A SHOUTOUT to the young boys there who provided Cola and pretzels and of course told me it was only 18.6km’s to the finish! A simple half marathon right?! Now it was time for the well-deserved downhill which took us around the headlands and gave spectacular views of sunlit Lake Taupo.

It was a nice surprise to slowly pass runners on my way down, and being seen as an incredibly young person running the 50km, I picked up many shouts and cheers. They motivated me! The last aid station was only 8km’s from the finish, so rather than having an awful long yarn, I was quick. But not quick enough! Grant Guise, the Altra legend caught me with the words “There’s this lady right up my ass!”. He jokingly asked me to pace him, but I kindly declined based on the fact he was running four-minute kilometres on the back of some 90km’s!

The final descent was hard but memorable, and the finish shoot was an amazing experience! But most of all were the faces when Kerry Suter (SquadRun legend) explained my age! It was something I’ll never forget! If you think 50km’s is bad for a 16-year-old, well think again! I’m planning to be back in 2017 to take on the 100km! There’s a goal!

Thank you’s go to Will and the TotalSport team for the amazing event! Congratulations to dad for his first 100km finish and well done to everyone who participated! With this ticked off…


By Yonni Kepes

Thanks to OSM NZ for fuelling me on my adventures. Check out their product; www.osm.nz/yonni 

Follow my latest adventures on my new Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/yonnikepesathlete

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Progression through the ages

It’s a weird feeling looking back on your running career. Sometimes it’s even fascinating to see the changes you have made to your body and health. Other times it’s not as nice to look back to the days when you were a legend on your legs. But I believe even as a younger member of the running community it is essential to take time out and think about how far you have come, and the changes that have occurred in your life.

12698247_1698501280403897_505216172160997740_o I will use an example of a race on the road, and I know this is viewed by many trail runners but read on!

Two years ago, I would have never dreamed of running half marathons, marathons, and ultras by the time I was 16-years-old. I had always done a bit of running, maybe 100km per year at the maximum. But at the start of 2015, I set myself a goal to run the St James Country Half Marathon. I completed this with my dad, in a very slow time of 2:32:20. That’s a long time to be out there hah? Well, I guess I enjoyed it, I slowly moved into trail running, and eventually I was addicted.


2015 saw me run eleven times more kilometres than the year before, and my running just kept running I guess (it was intended) ;)! The Christchurch marathon in June was my first road marathon, and went very well! But I had only cut my half time down to 1:51:56 – still not fast enough!

But yesterday, at the Sri Chinmoy Half marathon in Hagley park, I thought I finally better have a shot at a sub 1:45. It’s amazing what the body can do! I came in at 1:35:51 (fast for a 16-year-old)… A little different to that 2:5 hour run two years ago!

What I’m really trying to get at is that through years of hard work and many hours of training, you can achieve your goals. But it’s always good to be looking how you are going, and the changes you are making. Similar to my two-year effort in the half marathon, many of you will have distances you have been trying to crack for many years… But it’s always good to take time out and understand how far you have come since first having a crack at that distance.

Like I said earlier, sometimes it’s a good thing, other times it’s a bad thing.

Either way, I believe it’s essential.

By Yonni Kepes

Thanks to OSM NZ for fuelling me on my adventures. Check out their product; www.osm.nz/yonni – It’s worth it, and get 40% off your first subscription pack of goodies!

Follow my latest adventures on my new Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/yonnikepesathlete

Or my Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/yonnikepes/


Does age really matter?

Being the teenager who nags race directors constantly for race entry dispensations, it’s a coincidence I should be addressin14324300_10154533428684878_2096487673238629180_og this question.

A 16-year-old running trail marathons and ultras? Shouldn’t his parents be preventing this and be worried about it causing injury and problems with his growth?

It’s amazing going to school each day, seeing my mates’ faces when you tell them your weekend Strava results and statistics. Or even better if you claim a CR on your local Mount! All of them, and I’m being serious think I’m crazy! In the context of young people I guess the real question is, whether they are passionate for the sport, and if so do they know how to listen to their body.

With the commercialization of Ultra-distance trail running, younger teens are being pulled into the high-intensity weeks of training and are being physically drained. Maybe in this scenario, it’s not the distance, it’s the training, the push of large sponsors wanting these athletes to push themselves to their potential. With big training weeks, age does matter, it’s a maturity thing to be able to listen and understand how your body properly works.

But what about those who do listen to their body, those who don’t train to a plan, those who train when they feel good? Does age matter in that context, shouldn’t the maturity define whether these young people have the same

14358650_314037615624090_6854525534345623243_n ability to compete in these large races similar to adults? In my experience, I haven’t been turned down yet from a race  but have had numerous comments from other competitors, many of

them asking why I do it. It’s a good question I guess, why on earth would a young 16-year-old choose to run marathons and be fit, in his prime, social and party years?! Like I said earlier it’s a passion, I enjoy it, and I’m able to understand how to train properly.

So with that said, does age really matter? Well, I believe it comes down to both passion and maturity. Does the young person have a passion for the sport, and sees it as something more than just training? Do they run in the mountains because they enjoy it, and can they listen and understand how their body copes with this running? If yes, then let them do it. My parents have, and I’m glad they did!

Oh and for those who are still worried and don’t quite believe me, I’ve entered for both the Taupo Ultramarathon 50km in October this year and the Old Ghost Ultra 85km in February 2017. I guess if these races go okay, I would quite like to finish Northburn 100 before I’m 18 (that’s of course with a dispensation! 😉

Thanks to OSM NZ for fueling me on my adventures. Check out their product; www.osm.nz/yonni – It’s worth it, and get 40% off your first subscription pack of goodies!

Follow my latest adventures on my new Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/yonnikepesathlete

Or my Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/yonnikepes/


Catch up!

Well I’ve been busy I guess! School, Youth Council work, more school! Oh and yes! Lots of running!

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’m planning on starting to write a post every couple of weeks! I guess I cannot however go without mentioning two big races I’ve done since.

First was Christchurch Marathon! My first road marathon! What an effort by a 16-year-old hah? 42.2km in 4:10:15 hours. That put me at 5th U20 male, and in the top 150 overall! It was a pity I didn’t crack that magical sub 4, but there’s always next year!

Second of all, the Ashley Forest Trail run – a beautiful 22.7km trail run through North Canterbury. With 550 metres of climbing it wasn’t a joke, and coming in at 1st Under 20 male and only 30th overall was an awesome effort. I finished in 2:07:03 hours, which was some great training! 

Its also exciting to announce to new races I’m doing in the coming half year. These will be my focuses and the big ones of the year. Taupo Ultramarathon 50km in October and the Old Ghost Ultra (85km) in February next year. Both look like incredible races and I’m honoured to be able to participate in them. I’ll keep you updated with my training, but for now, enjoy the comeback of blogging!  🙂

Thanks heaps -Yon

A training run in Wellington with dad!

HYP – Mt Grey walk

Well sorry, I haven’t written in awhile! Been very busy with running and school work. I have done a bunch of races including the Sri Chinmoy 30km Champs in Christchurch. I will try and keep blogging about my running, but just less frequently.

As part of the Hurunui Youth Programme (HYP), I was involved in organising a programme for youth in the Hurunui District to start working on fitness and have a go at either the Half Marathon, 10km or 5km at the upcoming Hanmer FourSquare races in Hanmer on May 7th.

With a massive turnout of 18 people (that’s a lot), we started our walk up Mt Grey. With different abilities and different rates of fitness, everyone had a challenge for the day. The plan was, up the Lake Janet track and then back down the logging/forestry road. The track is fairly wild so it made for a slow 750m climb to the top. With a few stops at both the firehouse and then cellphone tower, we made it to the trig in about two hours (including breaks).

It was windy on top, so we had a quick snack before starting a well-earned run down. The group was broken up a bit when people realised that we would all run at different speeds. Some walked, others ran! Luckily enough there were a couple of fast runs in the mix, so it made for a lovely last 4km. I got a great chance to stretch the legs when a newbie to trail running, Rosa, pushed the pace and ran a flat 4-minute km… That was unexpected! It was great to have someone who was motivated for the programme and was keen to start running more often! Welcome to trail running!

The day was finished with a BBQ at the end and a chat about what was next with the programme! If you want more information on the programme please comment below and I’m happy to help! Thanks to everyone who made the day happen, and we at HYP look forward to the next one!

Find the Strava trace here: https://www.strava.com/activities/534124595




2015 – My Running Year

This year has gone fast. As I sit here writing this blog post it is hard to comprehend that I only ran 50-60kms last year. But come January 2015 I made a decision to turn my running life around and actually run rather than talk about it.

Racing started in late January when I set a goal to run a half marathon. My first half marathon was the St James Homestead Half in which I competed with my father. It was a hot day and there were a few hard climbs but, in the end, we made it to the finish line. I finished in just over two and a half hours and placed first in the under 20 category.

Next came the Oxford Odyssey organised by Kerry Uren on Mt Oxford. This was to be my first trail running event. I raced in the 15km race and finished in 1 hour 51 minutes. I was happy with how the race went and was excited to start training on some more trails. I believe this was my turning point from being a road runner to being a trail runner!

Racing was quiet in February. I had no races but did help out as a volunteer at my father’s first ultramarathon (Bedrock50). He did extremely well and finished strong. It was great to give back to the running community.

In March, I raced the City to Surf. It was compulsory for my year group to either run or walk this race. I chose the longer option (14km) and ran it. Of course, it was to be a very fast course so learning to not speed off at the start was key. I got there in the end in a time of 1 hour 10 minutes. I was happy that I completed it, but there was some stuff to improve on.

I didn’t race again until May where I raced in my school cross country event. At a distance of 3.2km, I knew I could easily complete the distance, but the question was could I make Top 10? Starting off, a bit too fast I clocked the first lap (1.6km) in a fast 6.10 minutes. But for the second lap I slowed down and finally finished in 11th. I was happy with the result but disappointed that I couldn’t hold a fast pace the whole way.

My next race was the Christchurch Half Marathon. It was perfect conditions and I knew I had a shot at a PB. I started off a little fast as I always do, but kept a good consistent pace till the end. It was a PB and a good one too! I finished in 1 hour 55 minutes and 44 seconds. My father ran the marathon doing very well in that while my brother and mother both ran/walked the 10km event. It was a great day out!

Next came the North Loburn fun run in September. It’s a lovely race with a gradual climb/descent. It is an out and back course which follows a road through pine forest. I completed the race in just over 48 minutes and placed about 15th overall.

Hellers Pegasus fun run was next. I raced the 5km event in which there were about 500 hundred people. I messed this race up and started to fast. But finished in the end. I finished in 9th place but could have easily placed in the top 3. Better luck next time!

After a range of short races and training runs, it was time to get back into my half marathons. In the space of two weeks, I raced two half marathons. The Bridge to Bridge Clarence Challenge and the Lodge to Lodge Half Marathon. These were both hard races with a bit of climbing. One was trail and the other road so it made for an interesting few weeks. I finished the Clarence race in just under two hours, while in the Lodge to Lodge I ran a PB in 1 hour 54 minutes and 32 seconds! I was stoked and even better my father did well placing in the top 3 of his category in both races. My brother and mother did well in the 10km event of the Lodge to Lodge.

Next came the big marathon! You can see the full race report here. But what I will tell you is the statistics: 42.2km, 3200m+ of vertical climbing and three mountains climbed. It was a hard day. But I finished in 8 hours 41 minutes. A great effort for my age.

My last race for 2015 was the Hanmer Alpine Marathon. A full race report can be found here. I just missed out on a PB but placed 3rd in the under 17 category. I was extremely happy and it was great to catch up with many friends who we know through running. Thanks for a great event as always Hanmer Holiday Homes!

Well, this year has gone fast. With 13 half marathons and one full marathon under my belt, I have to say I’m proud. Thanks to all the race directors for a great year of racing and a thank you to the Kepes family for a great year full of memories.

Yeah okay, the stats. Well, I ran 901km’s this year! It’s a bit more than 60km. I climbed over 15,000 metres and spent over 100 hours running. I would write down my goals, but I’m in a rush to get to the airport for a flight to Nepal where we’re going trekking for a month. I will track a few of the days. You’ll get a write up sure enough in early January! Have a great year and thanks for reading!

Strava profile can be found here.