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!



  1. Godfrey Therkleson · April 10, 2017

    Yonni; from a Grandfather’s viewpoint you are doing extremely well at the long distance running and all this without stopping the intense & demanding study work at school. Keep it up, the rewards will be something to be cherished in later life. Do enjoy your break away and I am hoping you will be able to stop by here during one your more challenging races. All my best & warmest wishes –

    Liked by 1 person

    • yonnikepes · April 10, 2017

      Thanks Grandad! Yes – I’m sure there’ll be a race in Wellington soon! Take care!


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