At 81 years old, Summerset at Aotea resident Peter Hanson is showing no signs of slowing down – in fact, he’s speeding up. 

“When I got made redundant, I felt I needed to focus,” Peter says. “I’d run when I was younger, so I took up running again and was doing quite well – but gradually I got slower and slower.” 

The culprit was a tumour in the left ventricle of the heart – and since then, Peter’s been focussing on getting himself back up to speed. “I power walk. I do have a personal trainer, but that’s mainly for my shotput. I also do a core class on Monday nights. I do weights on Thursday afternoons. And Friday’s generally my free day – I relax for my race on Saturday.” 

The thrill of competing has led to some memorable moments. “There’s a few races I’ll always remember,” Peter says. “My first national title, it was in the 800m and there was two guys in front of me. One was in a different age group. I started to sprint, and I came alongside this guy and he was momentarily blocked to respond because this guy was in front of him – and that was the winning of the race.” 

A few of Peter's medals

While Peter notes that his age occasionally affects his intense schedule – “The older you get, the more recovery you need” – he constantly has an eye on the future, now starting to alternate running with long walks to boost his overall fitness and running performance. 

“I’m in the process of changing my programme to extend my running life,” Peter says. “By doing these extremely long walks of 20km, I’ve improved my racing time by 4 or 5 minutes.” 

Peter warms up pre-run outside Summerset at Aotea

Peter and his wife made the decision to move into Summerset at Aotea because of the ill health of Peter's wife. Not long after that, Peter’s parents also moved in to the village. 

But while he enjoys the Summerset life, one of the things Peter appreciates most about Summerset at Aotea is the freedom it gives him to live life outside the village the way he wants to. ‘All my running friends are outside the village,” he laughs. “They’re all a lot younger than me.”